I wanted first to thank you all for your notes and also to post a poem written during this time off.
Rag bound 'round your head,
brown skin dipped in sweat
you washed our dishes
ironed starched collars
and fancy blouses
no Cinderella prince
would offer you in your lifetime.
Four years old and precocious,
I corrected your grammar, ran unbidden
down the path to your house,
watched you fry fatback
and flatbread, thought it a feast,
never dreaming, if offered the platter
you might have chosen steak instead,
never saw you sighing at the unjust breeze
or the angry hawks circling over the thick pines
behind your house, day's end, sore feet crying
on the graying planks of your porch.
Grown, I wanted to toss out my sorry's
like a pink net of flowers--like Judas,
to give back the coins, beg forgiveness,
undo the nails, dig out the thorns, but
you stood in your sister's door
a statue, already fading in the twilight
eyes as vacant as a barn after the cows
have been led out to slaughter.