My mother commanded her kitchen corner--
two casement windows cranked open
in summer while she steamed above
sudsy dishes, her five kids shot
into dusk's after-dinner space--
the street, and other kids like us.
Two potted violets from her dead mother
anchored the sills. If you find my father
in this picture, please let me know.
We still look for him far from that tiny house.
My mother dried wishbones on those sills.
It was she who decided they were dry enough
to break. She never wished herself.
PHOTO OF MY GRANDPARENTS WORKING THEIR LUNCH WAGON AT THE GATES OF DODGE MAIN
Their signs guard the wagon with the sincerity
of hand-painted lettering. The grunge and grumble
of factory workers raggedly straggle into one more line
in their lined lives. My grandmother's scarved head pokes
into the photo from behind my grandfather's
stooped bulk. He takes the money. She cooks. 1934.
Depression took their corner store, my grandfather's
charm losing currency. The guys in line have
no time for his inflated tales of the War-to-end-them-all.
They eye the sky's time clock, the tiny spark
of my grandmother, or just the plain ground.
They must know the world's rigged against them.
My grandfather's hand extended, waits forever.
These poems are from Daniels' book, Rowing Inland
, out in Spring 2017 from Wayne State University Press.
"Wishbone," "Photos of My Grandparents Working Their Lunch Wagon at the Gates of Dodge Main" from Rowing Inland by Jim Daniels. Copyright 2017 Wayne State University Press, with the permission of Wayne State University Press.