Statues of Liberty ?>

Statues of Liberty

mamma scrubbed
rich white porcelain
and hard wood floors
on her hands and knees
hid her pretty face and body
in sack dresses
and aunt jemima scarves
from predators
who assumed
for a few extra dollars
before Christmas
in dark kitchen pantries
they could unwrap her

aunt helen, her sister
took in miss emereen’s laundry
every Sunday morning
sent it back
hand washed, air dried,
ironed, folded
and cleaner
than any professional service

she waited patiently
for her good white woman
to die
and make good on her promise
to leave her
a little something
only to leave her first

aunt bertha, the eldest
exported her maternal skills
to suburbia
to provide surrogate attention
to children of money and privilege
and spent every other moment
preaching about
the richness of the afterlife
before the undertaker
took her
to see for herself

washer women
a whole generation
of portable day care centers
traded their days for dimes
allowing other women
the freedom to shop
and sunbathe
the opportunity to school
or work

this curse-swallowing sorority
dodged dicks
and bosses
before postwar women
punched clocks
they birthed civil and human rights
gave the women’s movement
sacrificed their then
to pave the way for a NOW
their hard-earned pennies
sent us off to college
and into the world
our success is their reward
are their monuments
but they
are our statues of liberty

From the book of poems “Affrilachia” by Frank X Walker

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