This is a section of a long poem
All mothers in our neighborhood
smoke cigarettes, and wear Red Indian
kerchiefs on their forehead - to keep
sweat from falling onto their face.
Mothers all wear tube tops - stuff
toilet paper inside to make them - look big.
Mothers send their children to the
grocery store, and to the drugstore -
Mr. Ferro gives tiny brown bags, filled with
little bottles of pills.
Mother looks worried when she runs out
of her little orange pills. She would say,
“I need my pills, now - it’s the only thing
keeping me alive!”
So I grab two one dollar bills she has in
her hand - dash down the block clenching
my fist so hard, not to lose the two dollars,
forgetting about all cracks in cement which
could brake my mother’s back.
I climb the steps of the pharmacy - see
Mr. Ferro; he smiles at me. He takes
two dollars, hands me a little brown bag.
I’ll walk quickly out of the drugstore, down
four cement steps, across Mason Street, to
I run now, all the way home, picturing my
mother dead, spread out on our kitchen
floor. . .
Later - in the afternoon - mother might
count pennies on our window ledge in
our kitchen for a loaf of American Bread.
She will hand me pennies, so I leave
another trip, across Seneca Street to
Central Market, a bigger grocery store,
unlike Charlie’s Grocery on Avenue A.
Walking across the market lot my feet
slip on splinters.
No cement here to break mother’s back.
Nancy Duci Denofio
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