Bread Line

Philip Evergood, Lily and the Sparrows, 1939. Oil on composition board, 30 x 24 inches. Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Purchase 41.42. Photography by Sheldan C. Collins.

No one knows what gladness eats from our hands,
how hope troubles and shudders the empty air.

We wake to the red song of hunger, nibble, share—
and from these wrecked hands, dark wings

still struggle, a memory of song trapped in our wrists.
But soon the holy will come, uncage us all,

bald grimy-fingered children lost in rapture,
fraught with flutter under the blurred blue.

In every history, this shared language of appetite
and luck opens, waits for heaven to descend,

begs for the telltale rustle of rain. Through this window
of lipstick-bricked Spring, the soul strikes memory

to a slow flicker of plenty. Ravenous, burning
aviary, this heat rising through the house of the body,

this chimney of smoke, weather opening to morning
though we live hand to mouth, window to sky.

Marilyn Annucci, Robin Chapman, Susan Elbe, Sara Parrell, and Alison Townsend