It is nearly midnight and I'm
scrubbing at the grout.
The dishes, washed,
are put away. This is how I love
the people in my house,
with baking soda and a sponge.
We build our community
from the kitchen out,
knowing eggs or cornbread
stretch a meal to feed
the neighbor boys, who come
when we sit down to supper.
They always join us
when we offer, always ask
to use the phone to talk to girls.
They claw through adolescence
and such obstacles I never had to face:
gangs and constant relocations,
Michael's father half-way through
his fifteen years for selling. I learn,
I learn from them. Outside, sirens
flash their blue and red again.
I sweep footprints in a pile,
fill the bucket for the mop.
So much is beyond my circle of control.
But this house, this place of gathering,
it shines, if only for a few to see,
if only through the morning.
Added: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 / From "Glances Back" (Pudding House Press, 2007). Used with permission.
Emily K. Bright holds a BA in English from Williams College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Minnesota. She is author of the chapbook Glances Back and co-author of Powerful Ideas in Teaching: Creating Environments Where Students Want to Learn. Her individual poems have appeared in such journals and anthologies as Collier's Online, America, Other Voices International, and Come Together: Imagine Peace. emilykbright.blogspot.com.