I owned two pairs of shoes, one black
and another brown, only one pair of boots
for the milking barn and the cows all had better boots
than mine. Pens and paper were expensive,
as were school books bought yearly
from wages earned milking morning and night.
I managed to avoid cigarettes, drugs, alcohol.
I labored so my hands and nails
were clean enough to not draw attention.
No polish, no manicured nails, no complaints
about washing the dishes, carrying out the trash.
To have what I did was fortunate, although
even the kids at the orphans’ home seemed to have more.
Homework and reading all completed
on the 45 minute school bus route.
Library books—I ate like candy
“but in those days//I was always hungry.”