I Get Only Four Hours Sleep These Days
by Ellen June Wright
Once I sat outside the local supermarket
in my idling car
trying to wait out the need to buy
the largest bottle of pain killers
and take them all.
But when I look at you, I realize
my life is easy.
I'm not cleaning the hind parts
of incontinent, decaying men
who spit on me.
I don't come home with shit
smudges on my once crisp whites
and feel my daughter shrink back
from the smell of death that lingers in my clothes.
I don't climb the stairs
trying to get a few hours rest
before having to rise again.
In your day, trying to feed us
without a high school diploma,
you went on only two hours sleep
many a night
going from the Westmore nursing home
to the other on the Cliffs.
I get only four hours sleep these days
between work, school and study.
I'm not a laborer, but this is work too,
and I'm working hard, Mom,
almost as hard as you.