What"s Going On
May. 9, 2010
Summer of nineteen seventy-something,
somebody’s little sister has a baby.
We all drive the sixty miles of Metro artery
into Detroit’s sooty heart to see for ourselves.
Blazing full-blown daylily summer, bulldozers
pulling up malls in the immigrant fields,
four or five long-haired girls in a Mustang,
windows down and wailing to Marvin Gaye
you know we’ve got to find a way
to bring some loving here today
One of us now an aunt with a big stuffed dog
in a carful of big stuffed hungover
heads with freshly shampooed bangs.
All of our fathers are drinking men
father, father everybody thinks we’re wrong
and all of our mothers are lousy cooks. All of us girls
wear pink lip gloss and smoke Kool Kings.
Whose father makes the basement wine,
the clear corn liquor we siphon and sweeten
with 7-up and cherries? Whose mother
makes the borscht and bitter cabbage rolls?
Whose father knocks whose mother
down the stairs? Whose father gets
laid off and lets the lawn grow back to prairie?
Whose mother hangs the Christ heart
stuck with thorns on the kitchen wall
above the stove? Take this and eat
and the spiders hatch in vacuum cleaner bags.
And we lift the new child up
in the swaddling light
of Henry Ford General Motors where
his mother will spend the bright coins
of her teens her twenties her thirties her forties
mother, mother, mother there’s far too many
of you crying
somebody’s mother says girls get that straggly
hair out of your face, hold up your heads.
Pamela Gemin is the author of two poetry collections Vendettas, Charms, and Prayers and Another Creature.
She is also the editor of three poetry anthologies, including Boomer Girls: Poems by Women from the Baby Boomer Generation. Her poems and anthologies have been featured on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Writer's Almanac.