Cardboard Against the Rain

Mama at the door shakes her head slow, she just stare
Feel the wet wind slap like Cain
Filling her place cold, where
Children crowding that blank window pane
Move the tired rug, the lame chair
Raise cardboard against the rain.

No, she can't hear them ask, instead
Dangles while antique despair
Swings her over lives spread,
Smeared open on cardboard, damp, taunted
Sees her children born then them dead
Molded in fine final clothes they wanted.

Scared with imagining she can't fight
Down soft whining dread,
Taheerah reaches pulls her from fortune's sight
Back to the huddled bed, Fay, Jamal clutch
Warming on Mama leech-tight,
And she cries at their touch.

But calm can't come from her tear,
Flinches from Jamal they excite
That elder burden, passed down fear:
Suffer suffering, it comes to her young
Bent hard they'll disappear
Under crosses that sour their tongue.

Mocked this moment, something she's known
Comes like water on rain, severe,
A hard inheritance--her folks, her own--
Comes by her three, their bit is placed
Pulled fast: Mama sees, up alone.
How much the summer storm debased.

She wants so bad to panic them away,
Run, scramble out postpone
Reckoning anything but stay
Here her children dripped with city spit, heave
Over this place, at least betray
Sheltering lies and leave.

But out by filth-dimmed walls
Face it again, the way
They'd whisper while she stalls;
Nothing, there it is, no "in case--
Call," nothing but leering halls,
Christ, or this hollow place.

Mama tells there's nothing out but back,
Down like deadweight falls
Hands herself down to them slack.
Pockets the old pain;
They help her rise when the patch fails
Together raise cardboard against the rain.

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