The birth in a narrow room

Weeps out of western country something new.
Blurred and stupendous. Wanted and unplanned.
Winks. Twines, and weakly winks
Upon the milk-glass fruit bowl, iron pot
The bashful china child tipping forever
Yellow apron and spilling pretty cherries.

Now, weeks and years will go before she thinks
"How pinchy is my room! How can I breathe!
I am not anything and I have got
Not anything, or anything to do!"-
But prances nevertheless with gods and fairies
Blithely about the pump and then beneath
The elms and grapevines, then in darling endeavor
By privy foyer, where the screenings stand
And where the bugs buzz by in private cars
Across old peach cans and jelly jars.

From Annie Allen (1949)

Young people gathered on fire escapes on Chicago's South Side, 1970. Photography by Robert Sengstacke, courtesy of The Sengstacke Archive at The University of Chicago Visual Resources Center.