By Marilyn Nelson
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home
with new truths she can hardly wait to teach.
She lectures them: the younger daughters search
the sky, elbow each others’ ribs, and groan.
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch
and blue-sprigged dresses, like a stand of birch
saplings whose leaves are going yellow-brown
with new truths. They can hardly wait to teach,
themselves, to be called “Ma’am,” to march
high-heeled across the hanging bridge to town.
Five daughters. In the slant light on the porch
Pomp lowers his paper for a while, to watch
the beauties he’s begotten with his Ann:
these new truths they can hardly wait to teach.
The eldest sniffs, “A lady doesn’t scratch.”
The third snorts back, “Knock, knock: nobody home.”
The fourth concedes, “Well, maybe not in church. . .”
Five daughters in the slant light on the porch.