Monday, September 18, 2017

Nancy Scott


The big, lumpy seventeen-year-old wasn't on the rental subsidy
meant for his grandmother and four young grandkids.

Helping out, he said, hanging his head, but I guessed he had no
place else to live. After I inspected the house, I asked him,

Why is there broken glass upstairs? Your gran keeps those rooms
locked because she can’t make the stairs.

He shrugged, then offered, They were playing there today
and broke the mirror squares on the wall.

Get a broom and clean up the mess now, I said, voice shrill,
as he shuffled off toward the kitchen.

Is he really helping you? I asked the old woman, bent with age,
ankles swollen.

Please let him stay, Miss Nancy. He helps the best he can.
Otherwise they’ll take my babies…no one else to care for them.

I watched him lumber up the stairs with broom and dustpan,
hoped at least for today, the kids would be safe.

No luck for a twelve-year-old across town. In June, he climbed
through her open bedroom window, raped, and strangled her.

Nancy reads "The Helper":

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Nancy confesses: "As a caseworker for the State of New Jersey, I never knew what I'd find on a home inspection. What I saw seemed unfortunate, yet benign, so imagine my surprise when he was arrested. We could never be sure what was behind a door or what any person was capable of doing."

NANCY SCOTT has been managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets for more than a decade and is the author of nine books of poetry. Her most recent, Ah Men (Aldrich Press, 2016) is a retrospective on the men who have influenced her life. She had a long career as a social worker for the State of New Jersey. which inspired many of her poems. Orginally from the Chicago area, she has resided in New Jersey for many years, but considers herself a Midwesterner.

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