Stacey Lynn Brown

Gaither Memory, Every Working Day

Me in play clothes, her masquerading
as a maid: no short black skirt and feather
duster but a stiff brown dress with white
stitched pockets where she kept tissues
and half-smoked ducks.

Perched on top of the white deep
freezer next to the ironing board,
I kept her company while she did
chores: dousing water from an old
Coke bottle on badly wrinkled shirts,

spitting to check the iron’s flat
metal heat, mating socks and snapping
sheets. The best part of her day
was my worst: changing back into
her street clothes, hanging up

the uniform, Bony Maroni
all angles and knees in castoff threads
and hand-me-downs. I’d walk her
to the street to wait
for the bus that carried her home

two transfers and three hours later,
and stand waving goodbye
in the black diesel fumes
while my mother called me in to eat
the supper left warming on the stove.