The Humane Society
My mother brought home
the strangest creatures:
a lamb wearing a big white diaper;
a blind raccoon; a wolfhound
with a broken hip, spooked
by birthday balloons—
Then there was Mary Lou:
two hundred sixty pounds and bruised,
she held a big leather purse,
drank diet pop, smacked pink gum,
went to the movies alone;
Mother called her a Godsend.
Next, it was Lucy, a little girl
my mother gave violin lessons to
and called daughter. She took
over my old bedroom, then moved
to sleeping next to my mother, close
to her under the covers at night,
holding her hand in the big brass bed.
Soon mother kicked all of us out—
gave the seven sick cats
to my sister, found my father
a gritty flat, and took his van keys.
That’s when she brought home
the man that beat her,
the Chinese man that broke her nose,
and pushed her all the way down
the shiny maple stairs.