Maggie was always there.  She came by bus
    smooth caramel skin
    shy laugh
    gentle hands
    smile that made you feel loved                                                     

What did I know of class division?    
What did I know
    of oppression

Rather, I sat in the deep windowsill, legs dangling
      jabbering and listening, steam rising
      between us as she ironed the sheets, starched the shirts
      taught me about the Trinity
      rules for living
      sin and salvation
Once she stayed overnight, my parents gone.  At bedtime:
     What you doing with your arms outside
      the covers honey?  You tuck yourself in, they go in too,
      adjusting my arms,  pulling the blanket to my chin for the first time.
What did I know?  

Before I recognized letters or numbers I had memorized
     the names and ways of her children:
     Madge  Betty  James  Charles  Robert  Butch
     Butch is a handful she would always say
and her no-good husband John, he was a handful too  

I never wondered who took care of them all.  Did not know
    children grow up fast
    when their mama’s gone morning to night
    taking care of some other children
My little girls she called us  

Instead, I asked again to hear
    the numbers of the buses she rode
    the transfers and wait times
    the adventure from her home to ours
What did I know?  Nothing.    

Nothing of what it meant
       to love and hug and feed another’s family
       Monday through Friday
to catch her first bus home at 8 PM hungry with the hope:
       Let them run on time
       so I can embrace my own children
       wrap them under bedcovers clear up to their chins