564 park avenue
by Aja Monet
abuelita’s hands were a time card she clocked
in and out, morning and night. they were
a pile of dirty sheets at the foot of a bed,
gnarled broomsticks, dustpans, and sooty vacuums,
her hands were soiled rags in yellow gloves,
they were two pillows beaten of mites
and dead skin, her hands were paper towels
and windex on greasy mirrors.
they were many rooms each day.
her hands were a slice of wonder bread
dipped in dark coffee with sugar,
they were cinnamon sticks oozing in farina,
they were ketchup squeezed over a plate
of scrambled eggs and white rice
they were what fed and cleansed
her hands were my hands
rushing to school before work.
“564 park avenue” from “My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.” Copyright © 2017 by Aja Monet. Used with the permission of Haymarket Books.