Sonnet for Ella Watson
After John Keats’ “When I have fears that I may cease to be”
Inspired by Gordon Parks’ photographs of Ella Watson, DC Charwoman
There’s times I fear that I won’t live to see
my babies grown and happy in this world,
won’t live to see them prosper and, Lord willing,
hold up their heads and walk with fists uncurled.
I fret about em, walking these scarred streets
alive with ghosts of hate and dreams denied;
I worry that they’ll never know they’re precious,
or feel the world is ever on their side;
and sometimes, when my daughter smiles at me,
I fear I’ll never see my girl full grown,
never know she’s safe in the embrace
of a kind man—all I can do, I own,
is kneel for Mary and my saints, and pray
till night gives over to another day.
Tara Campbell: "I am a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Jellyfish Review, Booth, and Strange Horizons. I'm the author of a novel, TreeVolution, a hybrid fiction/poetry collection, Circe's Bicycle, and a short story collection, Midnight at the Organporium. I received my MFA from American University in 2019."