Last updated:
June 1, 2020
Lori M. Cameron, editor
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Song for the Unsung – Lark Beltran

Always, they have buttressed
the worthy and unworthy—
those taken-for-granted Thelmas,
Wilmas and Joans, the sweetness
in their eyes clouded with crushed
dreams as their faces aged.
Imagining their lot
now and back when more
of America was farmland,
I sing to them, my sisters …

Rising at rooster’s reveille
(scant time to be pretty!)
dealing with hams and jams and
pies; whipping up the biscuits
and gravy to fill the growling
bellies of whatever brutes and gentlefolk
were their lot, and if
ideals survived drudgery, one may
have wafted from an orchard
in bloom, softening features
momentarily before poetry was drained
at the washboard, amid routine
hushing of the fractious, with yet
another pregnancy weighting the body down.
For every sunset savored
and each flower gifted,
there was a chicken-mess to clean,
a mucked-up kitchen floor,
a drunken rage to soothe,
wrinkled hills of ironing—
a heavy-lidded round—
while for one oasis of appreciation
stretched the ample, thankless plains
of indifference that parched the heart.

Early graves caught many
serving these life-sentences in
emotional deserts.  I’d like to acknowledge
them all, saying: You came,
you toiled, you mattered, and if
at home you were unsung, somewhere
that will be, or is being balanced,
and I rejoice to envision you received
as heroines, with prolonged clapping
and that overdue gold star.


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