“Day Care”

Last week’s walk was a long drive, a short march,
two blocks, snow sifting down on us like sugar,
the children iced in pink and purple jumpsuits,
so sweet, so cold outside the county exec’s office,
him saying to their parents, teachers, friends, us,
budget, cut, waste, and shut, not saying rabble,
hovel, grovel, or balance the city like a top
spinning on the bent back of a woman telling us
right now she’s a full-time worker, full-time
student, full-time mother. Our signs yellow,
pink, green are like candy hearts with bitter
messages: CUTS = Jobs Lost we are yelling.
Shift the filter to black and white, you can see
how we learned to read, you running in and out
of books burning like houses, to find the ideas,
and me, floating on a raft of stories, the lonely
ocean inside my house. No one to talk to.
A teacher calls: Our children! we are yelling,
someone says we’re going in. The empty lobby
sits behind the plate glass windows like a lit,
warm classroom where we could teach a lesson.
Then—not yet. Just a kind of tilting forward.
Later your photos in black and white show
what the signs didn’t say: A man’s tattered
shirt, a woman’s hand pressed against,
that people were Latina, white and Black,
a child with a sign, not smiling, not frowning, ready,
just before his words marched out from his mouth.

For a news report on this demonstration
in support of day care in Buffalo, see

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivs
Creative Commons 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment