Moms of Chambersburg
by Nancy Fox
were quiet when their husbands worked
what we might call the front counter of the family shop,
registered no opinion on any issue whatsoever,
ruled their children entirely.
These were not beautiful women in the sense of
girdles, knives, needles, mascara, starvation.
They could look billowy as a backyard
blooming with laundered sheets or,
come grim winter, a squat coat of boiled
brown wool with too much sleeve and collar.
Their shoes were flat, hospital useful,
sometimes with the little toe cut out.
I swore I'd never wear such slogging things
no matter what I was given
to wade through. The floors of the houses,
the sidewalks of Trenton, shook when they walked--
it's now, the length of another childhood rolled out
between us, that I can hear it.
We're talking about people whose hands steamed the socks white,
whose knees knew each inch of kitchen linoleum,
who stood with elbows steeped in yeast, oil, broth,
whose bare knuckles scoured a world
(one formica tile at a time)