Natasha Trethewey

2. Speculation, 1939

First, the moles on each hand —
That’s money by the pan —

and always the New Year’s cabbage
and black-eyed peas. Now this,
another remembered adage,
her palms itching with promise,

she swears by the signs — Money coming soon.
But from where? Her left-eye twitch
says she’ll see the boon.
Good — she’s tired of the elevator switch,

those closed-in spaces, white men’s
sideways stares. Nothing but
time to think, make plans
each time the doors slide shut.

What’s to be gained from this New Deal?
Something finer like beauty school
or a milliner’s shop — she loves the feel
of marcelled hair, felt and tulle, 

not this all-day standing around,
not that elevator lurching up, then down.