Noel Smith

Enough is Enough


The air outside is as snarling dogs.  
They are swirling near the house 
where Betty sits working 
a word search puzzle.

Images on the t.v. explode  
in her face. Nobody turns it off.
With her pencil she loops 
ellipses and circles around

the words and stabs them in place.  
She has not gone next door 
to Thanksgiving. In front of her 
a plate of sausages and gravy

has congealed. You know, she says 
in her beautiful crooning voice, 
I can’t eat that. She is fed up.
All those years at the bank

and never lost a penny til 
Ed forged her signature and made off
with all that money. All those
brothers of his and their no good

women leaving their children for
her to raise, her working, 
Ed and his buddies crashing 
in at all hours drunk. 

Old injustices heap around her 
like moldy crackers. 
Enough is enough. Outside, 
the dogs in the air thicken.

Noel Smith spent several years in Leslie County, Kentucky, as a social worker for the Frontier Nursing Service in the 1950s and 1960s, sometimes visiting her clients on horseback. A native New Yorker, she returned home where she taught elementary school. After retiring, she went back to eastern Kentucky frequently, where she made lasting friendships. The language, humor and resiliency of her friends made a lasting impression, and their stories emerged as poetry. The Well String (MotesBooks, 2008) is a collection of narrative poems about the people she knew while in Kentucky. She now lives in her native lower Hudson Valley of New York. 


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