From My Mother's Estate


A check for ten thousand dollars arrives.

How many hours in the shoe factory,     
how many days on the assembly line
     sewing flies into men’s trousers,
     screwing tiny parts into Royal typewriters,
how many years cleaning other people's houses
equal that much money?

You could have escaped
in 1950 with ten thousand dollars,
left him and started over,
found someone who knew how to love you,
or at least some peace.

I would return it to you if I could,
every dime,
if the dead
could accept returns.