When the siren shattered the night air
they had to turn off the lights
and shove black paper against
every window that could serve as a target.
My mother at twelve
had become an only child, five brothers
missing in action.
Before they left, she polished their shoes,
ironed their uniforms for a quarter each,
then, each hand waved its semi-salute
as the bus disappeared around the corner,
And, there were still
floors to scrub, pots to scour, butter to create
from lard and yellow food coloring, gasoline
and sugar rations to collect.
Every evening my mother and her mother
would sit on the holey sofa and listen
to the static crackle of a man's voice reporting
news from the front,
Wonder whether the tiny, incessant buzzing
plaguing their ears
was enemy aircraft
or only a mosquito.
© by Sherry Hughes Beasley.
Used with the author’s permission.