Ivy is born in the Bronx
At 6:04 A.M.
She enters the world wailing,
Falling flat against grimy bathtub in her grandfather’s basement.
Her mother holds her against her breast and their tears intermingle
For love, for purpose, for a lost human experience.
She’s eighteen, she’s broke, she’s alone
Her baby Daddy’s gone with the wind
And so are her dreams.
Ivy is four when she learns how to pack heat
“Keep it in your pant leg,” Her mother warns
“They don’t care that you’re small, they don’t care that you’re weak.
They’ll kill you, baby, they’ll kill you.”
Ivy often dreams of jumping into her static-streaked television
Where she’ll be safe, just a carefree cartoon,
Away from drug money and thieves and disease.
Ivy’s mother is gone and she’s nine today;
A deadly illness Ivy calls “The Devil”
Swallowed Mommy whole
Ivy’s small, she’s angry angry, for Mommy could have survived
If the Doctors hadn’t turned her away.
Ivy’s fifteen and jumps from home to home
She’s a vagabond, a non-consensual traveler.
Her only belongings are a tattered blanket
And a broken existence.
Ivy’s seventeen and she’s conquering the world
Straight A’s, no drugs, not pregnant;
Ironically, she’s everything her mother wasn’t
And yet Mommy will always be her hero.
Always and forever.
Mommy is still Ivy’s hero when she graduates high school
Salty tears drip down her chin, staining her rental gown
As she imagines what she’d say:
“I’m proud of you baby, but what can you do
With a degree in this part of town?”
Ivy is eighteen when she finds out she can’t afford college.
She breaks things, she breaks down, she breaks apart
As the words of her country’s anthem resound in her brain
“The home of the brave. The home of the brave.”
Ivy is twenty four, today
She’s warm and safe in a ripped sleeping bag
Beneath a gum-stuck overpass
There’s a needle in her arm
And knots in her hair
When she dies with her mother’s name on her lips
Smack dab in the middle
Of the Home of the Brave.