The Fashion Institute of Technology had only one dorm, reserved for out-of-town students, so I felt lucky to have been granted a room, even if I knew it was only for the first year of my two-year program. My roommate had sisters in the city, but had grown up upstate, in a Catholic group home, really an orphanage with all its attendant horrors. Nothing has changed about that since the time of Dickens.
Her mother died when she was very young. A family friend wanted to adopt her, but the Catholic Church refused to separated her from her two older sisters—the friend could not manage three more children. Her sisters married as soon as they aged out of the system, and now lived again in the city where they had been born. My roommate was a talented artist, and her high school art teacher encouraged her to prepare a portfolio and apply to FIT. She wanted to be a textile designer.
Her father had abandoned the family when her mother became pregnant with a fourth child. Unable to imagine being able to support three children, let alone four, on her own, the mother sought an abortion. It killed her.
Her daughters had no choice but to accept the fact that both parents were permanently lost to them. But there was a simmering anger in my roommate, a wound of loss and grief, that remained.
I lost touch with her—we both moved around a lot after getting our associate degrees, and the internet was not even a blip on our consciousness in 1973—but I thought of her again when the decision overturning Roe v Wade was leaked to the press.
Now, as then in the 1950s, our government blames the poor for their poverty, penalizing most of all the living mothers and their living children, abandoned by fathers, or forced to flee abusive husbands and partners, condemning them to hunger and homelessness as a punishment for not being born lucky, for not having friends and family who have enough wealth and stability to pick up the pieces when they need a helping hand.
another grey sky–
spring comes late this year—crow calls
inside the graveyard
For dVerse, where Lisa asks us to consider the topic of grief.