Ms. Replansky’s poem “An Inheritance” reprises those years:
Five dollars, four dollars, three dollars, two,
One, and none, and what do we do?”
This is the worry that never got said
But ran so often in my mother’s head.
And showed so plain in my father’s frown
That to us kids it drifted down.
It drifted down like soot, like snow,
In the dream-tossed Bronx, in the long ago.
I shook it off with a shake of the head.
I bounced my ball, I ate warm bread.
I skated down the steepest hill.
But I must have listened, against my will:
When the wind blows wrong, I can hear it today.
Then my mother’s worry stops all play
And, as if in its rightful place,
My father’s frown divides my face.
A poetic prodigy, Naomi was writing remarkably capable verse — much of it with a social conscience — by the age of 10. An effort from that period, inspired by seeing “Metropolis,” Fritz Lang’s 1927 dystopian film, began:
Hark, hear the bell’s sad muffled roar
And through the open door
Come millions of workers with bodies worn.