little girl

Mama comes home from a long day of work
hits her baby, makes her hurt.
Then little girl, youngest of five,
comes to school and cries and sighs.
“My stomach hurts,
my tooth, it bleeds,
I have a fever,
please, Please, PLEASE! 
just let me lie down…”
Naive teacher doesn’t know
the problem really lies at home.
‘Cause Mama’s been working so hard all day
and little girl’s just in the way.
So little girl gets hit and blamed,
then comes to school, heart-bruised and ashamed.
Feels sick to her stomach
just thinking about going back.
Who cares about books and how to subtract?
This is a matter of LIFE!
…or pain.
Finally, naive teacher reads the signs
and asks what happens behind the closed blinds?
And little girl says,
“When Mama comes home from a long day of work,
she hits me all over, makes me hurt.”

-Janel Westerfield