The judge ordered them to get married;
otherwise Jose faced rape charges.
His mother, a drug dealer, got custody of the baby
and Isabel went back into foster care.
The morning I drove Isabel to see Angel,
the grandmother was sitting in a beat-up armchair,
holding an empty coffee can on her lap
while she wrapped a rubber band around
a thick roll of bills. She didn’t know where
Jose had taken the baby or when they’d be back.
Isabel was furious that Angel wasn’t there;
it wasn’t the first time either.
I’m raising your kid so you better be nice to me,
the old woman warned her,
otherwise I give him to the State.
Screw you, Isabel said, you just do it for the money.
Isabel got to hold Angel for two hours on Saturdays.
When she didn’t have a ride, she took the bus,
more than an hour each way.
She always brought him a toy or a cute outfit,
shoplifted if she had no money.
I can’t help it, she said. I cry when I leave him.
I don’t know what happened to Isabel.
Occasionally I drive past the apartment;
it’s boarded up. Angel must be a teenager by now.
(forthcoming in Running Down Broken Cement (Main Street Rag, 2014)
Nancy Scott is managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S. 1 Poets' Cooperative in New Jersey. "Isabel and Angel" will appear in Running Down Broken Cement to be published by Main Street Rag in September, 2014. The book is a collection of narrative poems inspired by decades of work in New Jersey on behalf of homeless families and foster and adopted children.Nancy was a foster parent to Isabel (not her real name) when Angel was a baby.