Washing leather hands, she stains soap suds
Brackish, a boar bristle brush carving
Factory grime into the belly of the sink.
The water seethes, fogging the cracked window.
Chicago smokestacks tall as prison bars
Fade to ghosts through the steam.
Her son sits at the table, one leg chittering
Against the floor. He colors an ocean
In the pages of a phone book with
A broken crayon called Ocean Kiss No. 4
Mama, why is water blue?
The drain cackles as the faucet shudders to off.
Is it sad, Mama? Her tongue scrapes the back of her teeth,
Factory dust dry. She’d never seen blue water,
Never tasted an Ocean Kiss, but she imagined
Blue was the happiest water color,
Naked sea caressing cloud-folds, gulls’ wings
Tickling water’s rippled flesh, waves
Exploding to white as they lap the shore.
Blue water, soaring to meet the sky,
Runs free to the edge of the earth,
Drowning smokestack skylines with all
The strength of a working woman’s hands.