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What"s Going On

May. 9, 2010
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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.


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