Poverty by Chelsea Sherrard

I’m watching my chubby cheeked girl

With skin like sienna

Snoring quietly on the quilt on the floor Curled up next to her brother who is a slimmer More carmel version of her

A tangle of legs and arms

My mind tries to envision our future

After I finish college

The one I long for in a gated community With days filled to the brim with sunshine Hamburgers on the grill

Me and the kids sitting idly by the pool

That sparkles like diamonds Watching the peach colored sun Slip into the fuschia skyline

The ambulance passing by snatches me back to the present

It’s siren piercing the silence

Our safety feels like a tenuous thing

Fragile like an egg

I have a hope that is tangible and unseen like a breeze

I feel it even though I can’t actually see it

That there is a cure for this sickness we call poverty

There is an expectancy and a soft kind of knowing that there is

She was

She was warm

Like a plate of teacakes

On a lazy Sunday afternoon She was unpretentious humble

homespun

She was funny in a subtle way

Her love was palatable and constant as the sun

She was a gray haired queen

Whose pecan hands bore the burn marks from

Her time spent in the kitchen

She was always stirring cake batter in that lemon yellow bowl

She was a mystery to me at times

What did you dream about ?

What was it that you longed for? Was this the life you wanted?

I won’t know the answers

She died without me asking.

She will always be to me the walking, talking embodiment of

God’s generosity

And everything worthwhile to me

Forgive me

Forgive me for not caring enough

We were at the bus stop when you approached me

You were wearing Grungy jeans Teeth missing

Life had carved sorrow into your face

It was clear you lost your way somehow

Forgive me for not reacting sooner

(fear had me in a vice grip) You were barely existing

You just wanted

Or rather needed someone to see the loneliness

Like a child who needs you to acknowledge the picture they drew in school

If someone can bear witness to the pain t

Then it becomes real

Forgive me for judging you

Thinking this was the sum total of poor choices

Drugs or a psychotic mental state I didn’t understand As if you were a dark  mysterious alien life form and And I become the unwilling scientist

Forgive me for only having

Weak useless words to try to ease the hurt

I hope you forgive me I know it’s not enough

 

Chelsea Sherrard is a winner of the 2014 Stayton Scholarship in poetry.

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Poverty by Chelsea Sherrard

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