“In the Locker Room at the Temple” by Darlene Young

First, in goes the coat
and her oldest’s failure to get a job.
With the black shoes go
her husband’s sarcasm this morning;
with her scarf goes her own.
The blouse carries the lesson
she hasn’t prepared,
the dirty bathroom tile,
and the dying tree in the backyard.
Her teenager’s refusal to get up
and all of those tardies
hang from her skirt like tassels.
gathered in the folds of her half-slip
with tentacles like clammy drier lint:
all the ways she is a terrible mother.

Her white stockings, hope
that there is another page,
another day, a horizon somewhere,
stay on her calves, enduring.

She stands a moment, shivering.

silky slip washing down her
like good enough.
Dress of standing straight
and facing forward.
Slippers of small things,
little graces, daily manna
that can’t be hoarded
but can be found
unlooked for,
just in time.
She takes up her packet of
God’s daughter
and steps out into the light.