Four Quarters, Two Dimes & A Nickel

by Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

And a big eyed baby, looking up at me
like I’m God, not some snot nose girl
who just turned the dresser drawers
upside down, praying for payday,
willing to sell my soul twice
for something warm to fill
those relentless eyes.

Now the cold’s creeping through
the rattle crack glass and Good Lord, I’m
down-to-the-last-potato broke but know
blues won’t make my baby girl strong.
It’s time to get moving
what’s got to get done.

So, I leap over the chasm, swim the dead sea.
Wrestle angels, throw the bolt, stop the wind, catch the key.
Rearrange the universe, drop by drop.
Bend the nail, chew the whip, pull the hunting bow taut.
Rebuild the wall with a sword in one hand.
Swat away the locusts, hoe the worn land.

Grind the chaff, roll the stone, lick the flames, kiss the ring.
Plug up my ears when the pretty moon sings.
Sweat inside the furnace, lock the jaws, lick the sores.
Kill the four horsemen, find the scrolls,
hold the world.

Now she’s so fine, so strong,
taller than me and looking down
a new paved road.

Someday, she’ll stop and wonder
how on earth a Mama did all that
with four quarters, two dimes,
and a sticky little nickel
in the bottom of a drawer.
Right now, this story is my song.
But I’ll sing as I’m moving.
There’s more to be done.

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder has a BA in English from UNC-Wilmington and an MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University. Her work has appeared in various journals, including Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Pemmican, The Wilmington Review, A Carolina Literary Companion, and Grain.