Mama, Do What You Can : The Single Serving

Mama, Do What You Can

by Montgomery Area Food Bank on 04/24/14

(BTW Magnet High School, Creative Writing Magnet)

By: Melissa S.                                                                                                                  

Cerelia, last of the five C’s of her family’s little bunch

Caden, Cybil, Chris, Carter

And Cerelia, the littlest C


The homely little bunch sat gathered on their floors

Popping shells of purple hull peas

And washing pears which Ms. Washington gave them last Wednesday

Their mother in the squashed kitchen

Divvying the last of the saltines and government cheese among her children

Her sallow face strained from both the thought of her aching stomach

And strained from the thought of her children’s


The littlest C, Cerelia, whined an called for her evening suckle

But her mother’s breasts had little left to offer

Shriveled and dry as a sun-beaten fruit tree

At loss of vitality and life which once spurred through her veins

Which once held strong her children in her arms

As the boughs of a fig tree holds strong for its woodland residents

Which once was the provider of health and home

Provider of shelter and supple care

And now cannot provide the most miniscule of provisions

For her malnourished infant


The little phantoms drift to and fro beneath her tattered hem

Their baby bones clattering in a game of tag

Nothing more than the presence of straining life

Breathing on asbestos in a crumbling tenement

Drinking muddy water passed through busted pipes

That tastes of tin and stale rat dung

But when that’s all you got for your kids,

You boil it and hope they can suck it down

You hope that the brown doesn’t stain their eyes and their baby bones

You hope that you can find the means to feed

 Five little mouths and maybe, just maybe,

There will be a little left over for you


Hunger is their flat-mate, their burden

Hanging to the broken family like fleas or AIDS

Constantly ticking off every bit of life in their decrepit skins

Malnutrition is their nationality

Because when people look, that’s all they see

Not that one wants to be a dog trainer or a princess

But instead, as scrawny little hoodrats

There’s five of them, so their mother probably works the streets

A filthy tramp doing what can to manipulate the system

Mooching off society, they say

Or maybe throwing away their income on dope

Smoking away the vitality of her family


They’re all going to grow up crooked as the letter Z

Because their mother starves herself to give her kids a better life

Because she does all she can and asks for help

Because she can’t afford Olive Garden and Starbucks

She must be a bad person


Melissa was part of the BTW Creative Writing Magnet group that toured the Montgomery Area Food Bank for a food project, the project required that the students write about their experiences and we are thrilled to feature them as ‘guest bloggers’ for MAFB.


The food bank was the last stop for the students; it gave them an opportunity to learn about all sides of the food industry, from farm-to-table initiatives, local restaurants and to organizations like ours, that distribute food and other necessities for those in need throughout the state. The students got a sneak peek at our new warehouse and volunteer service center, and we helped de-bunk some myths about who we serve, how we help, and what hunger in the community looks like.


If you would like your students to come see our facility, learn more about hunger in Alabama, and how to help ‘Feed Hope’, visit our ‘Contact Us’ page and schedule a tour! Or, you can host a food/fund drive on behalf of MAFB- for more information visit our ‘How to Help’ page.


A big thank you to Foster Dickson, and the students for their participation and talents! 

Comments (1)

1. David said on 4/28/14 - 08:47AM
This beautiful writing depicts one true face of hunger and how a foolishly wrong misperception can be placed. Well done. Right On, write-on, right on.

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