Morgan Parker, Their Grandmothers Never Did the Laundry

“Black people are the glory of a shared piece of candy.”

Their grandmothers never did the laundry.
My grandmother did it for them

for less than I make an hour
talking to them about paintings.

It was a simpler time.
Front lawns were pie and rum punch.

Some women were beautiful. My grandmother
wiped their pumps clean of fertilizer

or took their lipstick out of a lapel.
My platforms are always smeared

with dog shit, pencil skirts wrinkled
up against their white thighs at brunch.

In the bathroom where they wash
their hands there is a picture in a black

Pier One frame. O! Let their bladders
be full of nostalgia for old New York.

There is no black in the pictures.
Where are all the slaves?

I dab, blot, lick. Did whoever
came before me eat chitlins for breakfast?

Stuff her black lips with hollandaise
and homefries and if she cried

her palms cotton did the sky blacken?
More importantly were there carnations

softening in a cup and out of frame does anyone
notice a shackle? I bet they don’t.

The waitress will ask how I like my eggs.
I’ll say scrambled but wish I said

black and tough as shit.