Alma sits alone at the top of the steps
     watching the passersby on the sidewalk.
     from a distant window the sound of a television
     echoes along the street, bouncing out of doorways.
     another pile of overdue bills
     no point to paying them on time --
     her social security hasn't been processed
     so they'll only bounce and come back with a
     blazing red "Pay Now" reminder
     perhaps she should look up where
     Gregory is living these days, although he
     wouldn't be glad to see her at his door
     "come on, Ma, you know we're barely making ends meet
     as it is"  trying not to make eye contact
     sweat staining the arms of his undershirt
     no, here at least the landlord understands
     the way an old person's fortunes vary
     she has vegetables in the summer to round things out
     and the neighbors wave and greet her
     coming and going from their busy lives
     being a neighborhood fixture is preferable
     to being unwanted -- the government checks
     eventually come		she thinks again
     about Mary and the way the doctors insisted
     she be sent away, fighting every minute
     and then not fighting any more
     the breeze picks up a bit as
     street lights start coming on --
     the sounds of the television are replaced
     with voices and household movements.
     Alma quietly stretches her legs
     and watches the day pass into night
     		-acm (4/97)