She cried, as she sat on the back steps
for hours, rocking herself
and rubbing her hands.
When she did that we knew
she’d be going to Kings County again. *
Miss Virginia, hair barely covering her head,
black-rimmed glasses sitting on her nose,
eyes that saw more than she spoke of,
worried tone always in her voice.
She had to clean her husband Hilton's
greasy mechanic’s overalls, listen
to his slurred words and drunken belches;
wash her fast-talking son’s dirty,
sweaty, tee shirts, and know that he
tongue-kissed a woman in the front yard
as my mother watched from the porch.
How did she live with them?
She called her only daughter Honey Bunny,
sweetness in her life of sullen roomers
and haughty neighbors, on our block of row houses
sandwiched between red brick apartment buildings.
If she'd had another way, would she have danced,
carved something out of wood, shaped a life
for herself from clay, traveled to another state,
spoken with ancestors who could have
taken her by the hand and held her up?
* Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York
Causes Joyce Young Supports
VONA Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, California Poets in the Schools, La Pena Cultural Center