I’ve Got Nothing

By Ellen Scherer

Author Statement: “I’ve Got Nothing” is a found poem that combines quotes from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (shown in bold) and excerpts from Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (shown in italics). The quotes from Walker’s text are from the perspective of the main character, Celie, as she tries to understand the nature and trajectory of her pregnancy. The quotes from Rich are a reflection of the multifaceted, multiracial condition of motherhood. Notice the difference in the way the subject of motherhood affects Celie as opposed to Rich.


“Maybe you can give me a sign
letting me know what is happening to me.”
—Alice Walker

When i return...
he act like he can’t stand me no more.

The institution alienated my body and spirit
...he say I’m evil and up to no good.


The institution
 took my little baby.
The institution (human society as we know it)
sold it to a man and and his wife.
...I don’t think they killed it

Breasts full of milk running down myself in the waiting room.

the law’s motherhood
...leave a woman waiting.
Memories of my own mamma
...leave a woman waiting.
the notion that a woman pregnant is calm in her fulfillment
...leave a woman waiting

The institution allowed me only certain views, certain expectations.

My heart say she mine
I know she mine.
but when I dream, I’ve got nothing.

Ellen Scherer is a writer, director, and co-founder of Green Buffalo Productions (GBP), based in Buffalo, NY. Recent publications include “A Year of Fruit” (Spirited Muse Press), “I’ll Drink to That” (The Literatus), and “RCVI: Gun Violence” (Rosen Publishing). Other writing credits include 2020 Was My Year (A Moment of Your Time), When the Party’s Over (Cone Man Running), I Was Here (Equity Library Theatre, Open Space Arts, Inclusive Theatre of WNY), I’ve Got Your Back (GBP), and Scary Monsters (GBP, Inclusive Theatre of WNY). Ellen has directed and produced several pieces for GBP over the past 3 years and has recently added to her bag of tricks as a film editor for the company’s Spooky Film Festival. Twitter: ellen_gbp IG: green_bflo

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