Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cleaning Lady

She called me her professor,
though I was only seven then –
cleaning, washing, making beds,
she spoke in broken English.

I was only seven then,
I helped her learn to read;
she taught us games in broken speech,
we were her only children.

I tried to help her read, but still
she couldn’t understand. And soon
we weren’t children, didn’t need
her silly Polish games.

We mocked her, couldn’t understand
her broken English, crooked teeth;
“The stupid Pollack’s fault again,”
blaming her for everything:

the missing pen or broken lamp,
those teenage years were full of hate.
We blamed her for our own mistakes –
I led my siblings on.

Those teenage years were full of hate,
and where was she to run?
One night I led in the attack,
so cruel the words I said. . .

but where was she to run? Ten years
of cleaning, washing, making beds –
“I used,” she said with angry tears,
“to call you my professor.”


Dave L said...

I admire your courage to admit your mistake. Why don't you give your former cleaning lady a call and tell her how much you appreciate her taking care of you when your were younger and then apologize for hurting her feelings?

Samurai Scientist said...

@Dave, I apologized and reconciled with her several years ago. We are on good terms now, very good terms, but I don't live in her city and have limited opportunities to make things up to her. Still, the experience has had a big impact on how I think and behave.

Sim said...

yeah, that poem was depressing.

On a side note, 'Jesus'? You growing your hair out again?

Samurai Scientist said...

@Sim, there's more to Jesus than long hair.