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Saturday, October 18, 2014


by Janice Lynch Schuster

Photo source: lorena pajares

for Ai-jen Poo and Maria Shriver

When the poor woman leans in

it is to hold the steering wheel tight

and grip hard, sliding into the turn

to avoid a skid on wet pavement

and tires worn to a sheen.

She sits closer to a small flame

on a gas stove, and rubs her hands

with her children’s, because electricity

is money burning, and she doesn’t have it.

She leans in with someone else’s child

on her hip, over a sink,

scrubbing hard at the dirt

others leave behind, polishing

her body to exhaustion.

When the poor woman leans in

to the cashier at the food store

it is to whisper about bringing the five

dollars short tomorrow,

and has Oreos because apples and oranges

are something more entirely.

Janice Lynch Schuster is the author of a collection, Saturday at the Gym, and has been published in various print and online venues, including Poet Lore, Your Daily Poem, and The Broadkill Review. She writes about health care and public policy, lives in Annapolis, MD, and works in Washington, DC.