after "Bronzeville Woman in a Red Hat" by Gwendolyn Brooks:
Big-Hearted Concord Family
gives needy child a week in the country
We asked for a girl to go with our boys.
The schoolbus from Roxbury. Like borrowing
A jewel, really. Duped
to shine. An opal. A diamond. A black
There she stood with her mom,
Inside a print dress that was worn, needed mending—
Nothing hard to do, of course—the mom’s face a snarl,
The naked rebuff from that inner city darkness.
Of that slim quiet girl gave away nothing. Her limbs scarred with
blacker hues. . . .
But that was simply our first hello,
And warm-up to a fuck-hollering night-demon—all sweat,
Belly aching, and unwilling to sleep in a bed
Without her sibs, that’s all.
For our kids. We wanted a girl
To go with our boys.
[this poem imitates only the first stanza of the Brooks poem -- go here to see Thom Ingram take on the whole shebang]