We come to her kitchen line each morning
in the light and fog of Oak Street Junior High,
we are nothing.
You are everything.
Fresh from the morning fights of home,
we wear our benzene ring halos and empty bellies,
we have no hope.
You have only hope.
In each melamine bowl of oatmeal
she sprinkles salt and sugar, sometimes cinnamon,
and a thread to keep our skins tight and tidy
for the long days ahead.
May you always best the foreman.
May you marry a man with a GED.
May the lock on your bedroom door
always hold as firm as the new floodwall
against spring rains and the Ohio.
Jennifer Schomburg Kanke
Jennifer Schomburg Kanke is originally from Columbus, Ohio and currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida where she edits confidential documents for the government, which is not as interesting as it sounds. Previously the reviews editor for Pleiades, she currently serves as a reader for Emrys. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Court Green, and Nimrod.
Artwork: Children lining up for lunch in Long Island, 1957, photograph, public domain