Stacey Lynn Brown

If you would or could not do/for yourself

If you would or could not do
for yourself, you hired a nanny
or wet nurse: cateyed Gaither
rolling in each day
to take up my bundled being
and soothe me in sustenance.


She raised me: balling my fists
to teach me to fight, shaming my hips
loose so I could shimmy, count cards,
ante up, winner takes all
dozen yo mama’s so uglies on home.


All my childhood’s most
important lessons, taught between
ducked out drags of Salems and Kools.
I answered only to her
name for me: Big-Legged Mama
in servitude to her, gratefully.