Momma Welfare Roll
por Maya Angelou
Her arms semaphore fat triangles,
Pudgy hands bunched on layered hips
Where bones idle under years of fatback
And lima beans.
Her jowls shiver in accusation
Of crimes clichéd by
Repetition. Her children, strangers
To childhood's toys, play
Best the games of darkened doorways,
Rooftop tag, and know the slick feel of
Other people's property.
Too fat to whore,
Too mad to work,
Searches her dreams for the
Lucky sign and walks bare-handed
Into a den of bereaucrats for
'They don't give me welfare.
I take it.'
When love is a shimmering curtain
Before a door of chance
That leads to a world in question
Welcoming Bluebeards to our darkening closets,
Stranglers to our outstretched necks,
How to find my soul a home
They went home and told their wives,
that never once in all their lives,
had they known a girl like me,
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
In what other lives or lands
Have I known your lips
The highway is full of big cars
going nowhere fast
And folks is smoking anything that'll burn
You drink a bitter draught.
I sip the tears your eyes fight to hold
A cup of lees, of henbane steeped in chaff.
Curtains forcing their will
against the wind,
When you come to me, unbidden,
To long-ago rooms,