We Were Different

Our parents came from soil.
They struck the ground with iron, raked the earth with metal,
Planted carrots, green beans, rhubarb and fennel
And left behind the oil.
Not once did they come home with clear skin.
It was caked in dirt, brown and raw, all to feed their kin.
Even their hoarse voices, that herded cattle and sheep,
Could become butter soft when they soothed
Their children to sleep.
“Rest now to rise up. Rise up and early!
We can still see the stars in the morning.”

We were different. No muck, no mud.
Instead, our hair was combed
And our fingernails were clean and cut.
Big Apple weekends, smoked salmon,
Cream cheese and chives,
In famous expensive restaurants
Where the rich were televised
To our living rooms, to our kitchens.
Our employment history wasn’t in the ground
Nor in the woodwork or land.
It didn’t give us shade,
But only told us
How many cards we punched,
How many nights we slept,
How much money we made.

There’s no sparkle here.
Only in streetlights and neon signs.
Our pewter skies are too exhausted to shine,
They are coughing, clogged and charred
Because our stars wear sunglasses
And are driven down boulevards.

Our parents came from soil.
We came from concrete.

—–

Back for the day to share this piece. It’s been in the poetry oven for quite a while and not sure where to go with it – if anywhere!

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