memorial for a brilliant woman

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 Poem-a-day 10

Family Tree

I looked my brother up on google,
found his son is in jail for battery/
domestic abuse, he might be married;
far across the country in another world
where time stalls, my sister’s daughter
bounces checks and doesn’t pay bills.

We don’t talk at all, we five siblings
damaged by circumstance, memories
of welfare food and our passive mother,
a father who couldn’t keep his hands
off us, used the belt, fists, boots, fear,
to crush us under his influence.

Over the years we’ve passed paths
so infrequently I wouldn’t cross the street
to avoid them, I’d never know their faces
by sight, or be able to identify bodies,
barely know the names of their children,
where they shop, if they like arugula.

I’ve heard they are in touch, the four
who stayed to bury our parents. I ran
so hard I made a few bad choices
dwarfed by the one good decision.
I have no regrets, except my children
will never know who my family was.

I am an immigrant to a new land,
full of stories and artifacts, telling
what I think should be remembered,
little injuries concealed in anecdotes,
hoping genetics can be circumvented
by education and unconditional love.

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