All I remember is that it was a beautiful
sunny day when my mother came out
of the fast food restaurant downtown
near the bus station and walked
to the car where my dad and I
were waiting and told us how sad
it was that the man standing in front
asking for spare change was almost
in tears because everyone was
walking right by without even looking
and how she gave him money for lunch
because How could you not? How could you
just walk right by him like that?
and I was seven or maybe eight and
as we ate our sandwiches in the car
that afternoon I thought for a brief moment
that my mother—who’d worked as a cook,
a dressmaker, sometimes for people
who were wealthier than we could ever imagine
and who could forget us in less than an instant—
might be the most powerful woman on Earth.
The photograph of Margarita S. Padua was taken in 1950.