(Laura Annie West)

Social Services invade my home,
knock on my wooden door,
hurry across the dirt floor.

I see the looks they share,
the house, unclean,
clothes full of grime,
children’s faces display exhaustion
of another day trying to get by.

I cry for them to leave.
My two youngest children stand in confusion;
their lives will become upended.

I scream that I can handle my own;
care for my youngest.
I glare at the neighbors in the street
wondering who called it in.
Reports of neglect or abuse
or can’t take care of
or too many men walking in and out of the house.

My vision, blurred by a flood of tears;
cacophony of sounds.
I scratch my left wrist
while I grab for little Rickey,
watch my babies
being pulled out of the front door,
pushed into a strange car,
brother and sister, dirty knees touching,
cramped in the back seat
being driven away through back roads
dust settling on windows
on arms out in the air
on a heavy heart.
My heart so heavy.

Shelley Nation-Watson co-hosted one of Chicago’s longest running poetry talk shows, Wordslingers, on WLUW FM from Loyola University, 1999 to 2009. She has been writing and performing poetry in the Chicago area since 1988, and has hosted several poetry venues. She is published in Wisconsin Review, Apparatas Magazine, Literary Mama, among others.