To the Editor:
Until you’ve fed your kids Kraft Mac’n Cheese
from the mark-down bin at the Dollar Store,
for the sixth time in two weeks, made with
water instead of milk, worried sick
about what’s happening to their insides,
a dented can of carrots, past
the expiration date, a luxury.
Until you’ve worked two jobs and still
can’t climb above the food stamp line,
never mind proper heating or running water.
and you’ve put your six-year-old to bed hungry,
again, wondering if there is any way you can
take on a third job and still see your kids.
Until your daughter asks to pack her lunch
because she’s made fun of for being subsidized,
so in desperation you take time off work
to stand in the food pantry line, in the cold,
children in tow, only to be informed
it was a tough week for the pantry, too.
Until you’ve put your children on the school bus,
dressed in mended clothes from the New-2-You,
sized for children meant to be more filled out,
and they’re labeled white trash
and no amount of scrubbing can remove
that stain, and dreams of college remain just that.
Until a boy from your neighborhood picks up
a football and throws it so far thousands
of people notice, and thousands more
will eat high on the hog, because
the proof of a person lies in their honor,
and glory rests not in the moment,
but extends itself in supplication.
©2019 Kari Gunter-Seymour
Athens Poet Laureate (until Feb. 1)