God Was Willing Sis: I’m Home

Rebuilt our little shotgun house
Daddy bought for $2000 on the G.I. Bill 
Post-WWII in the 7th Ward.
Wide enough to love two families at a time, double,
Long & wide like a bulldog, stocky with a sturdy gait
Seemingly indestructible
With turn-of-the-century
Plaster & lath between walls held by red-brick fireplaces
Anchors for kin to hold on to
Steady, outlasting many storms
From Betsy to Camille, hurricanes that came &
Went like occasional visitors who
Overstay their welcome.
Here, we saved every book we ever had from
Old Bibles listing births, marriages, Deaths, to 
Sherlock Holmes & Harvard Classics,
Two dictionaries American Heritage & Webster’s, plus 
The American Peoples Encyclopedia,
That answered questions Daddy or Mother couldn’t from newspapers:
The States Item, but especially
The Louisiana Weekly
Where Negroes had starring roles as newly married or
Debuted, or swimmers medaled in photos with their
Part-time coaches, who were full-time teachers like 
Vic Vavassaur, with their own kids too
Who spent summers, Saturdays & after-school time 
Teaching us regulation sports from
Baseball, football, swimming to supervised play, where
We were all a team, & neighbors &
Grudges never lasted more than an hour or
No longer than a busted 
Lip that’s gone when the swelling fades &
Heals like our sunburns &
Summers between thundershowers
We see coming blocks away
Our shot-gun castle
Our guardian of refuge from those
Jim Crow days in our 7th Ward Neighborhood
When we had all we needed for comfort, & summer fun of 
Shaved ice or hucklebucks, &
Winters without cold &
No gunshots.

Copyright © 2022 by Mona Lisa Saloy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 14, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.