The woman shifts on the crooked stoop
Under the weight of the squirming child.
Dirty and ugly, the pair.
The mother’s matted blonde hair hangs in her eyes
And teases the tip of her cigarette
As the child kicks her unlaced shoe
Into the patchy grass.
It’s mostly dust out here
And the wind has coated these two,
Making them a part of the desiccated landscape.
Only when the mother swats at the girl
Is this decrepit portrait broken.
The child tries to run away
But only makes it to the edge of the gravel road
Before she realizes there is nowhere else to go.
Isolation has settled amidst the dust
That coats her shoeless toes,
Curled in defeat.