Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Census Taker

They strolled the neighborhood
angels of misfit; bag slung,
pad in hand, knocking
their arrival.
A temp job... lucky ones.

He came to the door,
dough boy in smiles,
trumpeting his mission
with deference and glee...
we were affluent in his eyes.

Down the street I wandered
where homes were not so nice.
I spied her in tell tale bag and badge.
Gaunt and wan, hair pinned to clip
but fuzzy and frizzled in the dyeing.
Purple socks, pink culottes, frayed Keds,
a sight for sorry suburban eyes.
Worn printed blouse draped drearily
over shoulders that sagged,
hands that wrung.

He pulled up in a white worn Chevy
and rolled out with a proud paunch,
balding head, belt slung low,
standing legs apart and arms folded.

The waif retreated from the old
porch, screen door locked.
"No one's home here," she drawled
in Southern foreign accent.
"See, the Chine-nee menu is still thar,"
as she pointed in fear.

Folded arms fell to tough guy hips,
the stance widened.
"Whatcha gonna do girl?" he 
drawled in mocking defiance.

She flew to the side door,
a broken sparrow, and knocked.
He held his gaze as she danced 
in nervous inspection and wait.

I didn't know if it was her boss 
or her husband, it didn't matter,
I hated him. Her exposure was
complete, undignified...
wish I'd never seen it,
or  at least spared her
my crude judgement.

I was conceived
in the back of a Chevy,
pre 57. I knew I came
to chronicle the sad times;
nobody told me
how hard it would be.
Ya hear?