"Mama, I’ve changed, I’ve seen
The California hills— and my!
How alive they swell with fruit—
Abundant to feed my family!

We’ll own a purty white house—
And Jim’ll study up them books
'come a salesman and bring in bills,
We’ll be rich, Mama, look!”

Mama nodded and hummed, tending
The delusional girl’s dusty blonde hair
Sweating and unkempt from travel
Escaping the Dust Bowl.

"Mama, we are in California!
I told you so! I’ve changed—
Do the lights and men call my name!
I’ll sing and tap my way to fame—”

"Hush now Mary Sue, get’r rest,
We still in the Utah foothills—
No Cal’forn’a lights be no wheres
For you to attest.”

The pregnant girl’s body convulsed
Trapped between starvation and wear
The life her stomach tried to support
Was dying, with a mother unaware.

"Mama, this here baby gon’
Go to school, wear white polos,
And I’mma make ‘im, his Daddy, too
Be respected in Sacramento.”

Mama poured the last of their water
On her daughter’s boiling forehead
The heat relentlessly continued on
When Mama said,

"Mary Sue, I ain’t gon’ say twice,
We ain’t in Cal’forn’a, we’re in the car
Traveling west, to God knows where
Now stop this talk, we ain’t gonna go far.”

"I’ll be fine, Mama, I know money’s tight,
But I feel faint and need a bite—
How I quiver and want this ill to disappear
And bring me to the Golden State!”

The November sky bore no rain—
The family’s car putted through the dust
Stopping for precious oil, water, fluids
Once common to the Okie family.

Mary Sue delved thick into her illness
And was preaching up to Jesus
When Mama forced her back down on
The truck bed— areligious.

"No God no put us through this—
and send us on this deathly path,”
Mama whispered as her daughter dreamed
Of picking from the grapes of wrath.

Mary Sue’s body refused to maintain
Twice the work it did to live—
That autumn night did she—
Think outright she deserved the—

Miscarriage — before sunset,
They buried the maybe child in a shallow grave—
Laid him down on crushed prairie grass
Shaded beneath the palos verdes.

Mary Sue lost her baby— And Jim, too,
He had been gone since September
Like Mama and Papa’s farm— deserted
Gone with the wind, or the government.

She finally saw the white house dream dissolve
And reality became much more attuned
Her baby’s dead and husband’s gone
As they continued westward to a fruitful doom.

  1. paradisaic posted this