August 14, 2014

I Don't Mind

by Anele Rubin

I don't mind so much
first of the month bank lines,
cashing the pale green government check
for a rent money order,
one to pay a bill,
taking the ten dollars left
to Monarch Thrift,
finding a blouse that just needs a little bleach,
new buttons, a wooden puzzle for my son
with only one piece missing.

I don't mind so much
the hot and cranky children
on the food stamp line that winds around the corner,
the girl with heavy blue-black hair
pinned back on one side,
deep dark eyes like wine in a chalice,
her brother beside her,
his finger in his nose,
babies sweating in Pampers,
thighs red with rash,
mothers wiping nipples of dropped bottles on skirts.
It's worth the wait--$88!--
chicken and ice-cream tonight!
And I like pulling my grocery cart to the store,
holding my boy's hand
looking for worms on the sidewalk,
and I like the feel and smell
of the people on the bus.

I don't mind so much anymore
the librarians discovering where I live.
I'm used to the smirking men
who cruise down Ocean Avenue
in white Lincolns with CB antennas,
the family men who don't look in my eyes,
young boys offering reefers and beer.
And I love the potted begonias
in my apartment window,
their fat pink flowers,
the piggy-backs, jades,
the little jelly glass
of phlox and buttercups
pulled from a vacant lot.
If rents go up, we'll have to move again,
but I don't mind too much.

Yet sometimes I pass a little house,
an old one, wooden, white paint peeling, a swing,
grass, spots of dirt,
a broken toy.
I stop and stare
and wonder what it would be like
to have a tree
I'd planted myself and could touch
every morning.
The backs of my thighs
would get to know the feel
of warm smooth wood
as summer after summer
I'd sit on the porch reading to my son
or writing letters.

And if I had a hundred dollars,
I'd buy a bicycle with a baby seat.
We'd ride to Manasquan and Sandy Hook,
but I don't mind too much,
though one day
I was sitting on a grassy riverbank
near the Matawan railroad station
as my son threw small white petals down--
boats for the bugs that walk on water.

It's okay this time,
but this is private property.
The voice was like sandpaper.
I didn't cry till the truck had pulled out.

I held my son and told him
that no one really owns rivers or edges of rivers.
But, still, we can't go back there ever
and I had to look in my young son's face
and say, yes, this is the way it is,
this is what I've brought you to.

1 comment:

Trez said...

Oh New Jersey.

Great poem. I really enjoyed that, thank you for sharing.