Artwork by Krista C. Graham, Torso, pen and watercolor
We visited the home for unwed mothers
as a good deed. I’d tagged along with the Protestants
out of friendship, though I’d grown up Catholic
and was ¾ of the way an atheist. We were not
bringing Jesus. I can’t remember
what we did, only the girls with big bellies,
lumbering around, looking tough and cocky
and no doubt, craving a cigarette.
The Beatles song “Help” played jauntily
in the background. One blue-eyed girl
with fierce eyes and scraped-back hair
told us that’s what was played when labor began,
that’s what ushered their babies into the perilous world.
It was years later I realized she was having us on,
trying to say this whole mess was just a bother
in a low rent life littered with bad luck,
trying to shock us, kumbaya innocents,
who were convinced there was no way in hell
we’d ever end up in a place such as this.
Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Natural Bridge, and others. Thrice-nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she’s published two chapbooks, most recently “Happy Darkness”. She’s also published short fiction, essays and stories and poems for children and lives in Seattle.