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.

Innocence lost

in the House of Orphans

festers in greasy rivers

of soiled minds.

Just ask the coiffed one

staring intently

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

claiming joy—

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.

The youngest,

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.

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