She Was All We Knew c. 1968

The seventh day was for God
and civilizing children—weekly
dressed in suits, clip-on ties,
church dresses and polished shoes.

On the Sabbath, we carried Bibles
we could hardly understand
committing verses to memory
for life’s challenges to come.

Mother spent the other six days
working as a domestic and nights
working the 11-to-7 shift
at the nursing home on the hill.

Long before we were old
enough to be left home alone,
she did it to keep the roof
floating above our heads

and called on angels to be our
invisible sitters as she threaten us
to stay in our beds until she
returned. We mostly feared her

and obeyed. She rose
from never enough sleep
in summer and went out
in the rain and came home

through the blinding winter storms,
the snow ice-blue in the early
morning light, when there
was no bus or taxi—

only her high boots and will
to get back to us. We were her
children and we knew
the surety of no other world.