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.”



last line from “Millay’s Hair” by Ann Townsend, poem-a-day@poets.org