Photo printed with Funding Appeal, 1965
That behemoth Bel-Air,
its tail stopped by a tree,
lurches outside the photo frame
hiding its eyes, but most of all
stilling its mouth –
metal teeth in a tight grill
tensed to spill the truth.
It knows too much of the four
posed along its flank,
its silver trim and steel doors
a backdrop of comic relief
for the rescued souls
about to disappear into the bowels
of the rear-facing third seat
for a ride to Sunday School.
in the House of Orphans
festers in greasy rivers
of soiled minds.
Just ask the coiffed one
into the Brownie,
a little Red Riding Hood,
her headband taming tresses
loved by the wild boar of the night,
or the boy in black and white,
his skinned head and summer smile
joy down deep in his heart,
one less waif on the streets
thanks to the largesse of donors.
That taller boy, arm behind his back
looks fit for service, if only
his new clothes weren’t hiding
cigarette burns —
scars that turned his heart to ash
and tossed it in a twilight zone.
a girl with a bob and a bag
looks like a proper wife in training
standing on the promises of a full belly
bound for glory in that Bel-Air –
such wishful thinking, these crafted fruits.
The children look pretty as their picture.
If only we could hear that car
spewing the old siren songs:
the Lord loves a cheerful giver,
and suffer the little children,
and public prayer has its reward.
by Janet Reed
Janet Reed teaches writing, literature, and theater for Crowder College, a small community college in the midwest. She lives large among her books, pets, and friends. Writing since childhood, she started submitting work for others to read this fall and is pleased that several pieces have been published.