Tuesday, June 10, 2014


“Johnny was smart, you know,”
Grandma said
a thousand times
as she looked into me
with her worn, knowing blue eyes.
“I know Grandma,” I always answered,
but I couldn’t really remember him anymore.
I was only three-and-a-half
when he died.
He wasn’t yet two.
Enough for a memory,
but not enough.

I remember bright, orange hair,
blue eyes, big smile with drool,
and, “Oof black!”
his declaration
as he pounded his thumbs
on the high chair tray.

I remember
watching him while Mommy
hangs wash on the line,
and running to her calling,
“Mommy, Mommy,
Johnny’s turning blue again!”
Then Mommy drops the clean, wet clothes
on the grass and runs to call the hospital.
We rush to the car, and drive fast.
They have the oxygen tent ready
when we get there.
We run past the ladies with the forms.
It is a small hospital.
They know us.

I don’t think this memory is mine,
but the memory I created
to go with the story
told to me so often.

I remember
sitting and drawing
while Mommy goes with Johnny
as they try to fill his blood
with oxygen.
After the first time
I don’t cry anymore
when she leaves me alone.
This must be my memory, because
no one else is there to tell it to me.

And I remember
going to school,
when kids ask if I have
any brothers or sisters,
or if I am an only child.
And I remember
never knowing how to answer.

Over at dVerse Grace asked us to share a part of our family history.  I ended up writing about my brother, Johnny, who was born with Down Syndrome, and died 22 months later from several congenital heart defects that often accompany it.  I thought my mom said he had three separate ones, but I can only remember Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD) and Tetralogy of Fallot.  Both my parents have died, so I really have no one left to ask.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Real to Reel

     Image from Magpie Tales

The first time
I heard a recording
of my voice,
without the deeper,
lower frequency vibrations
enhanced by traveling
through bone,
I was so upset I didn’t talk
for two days.

Imagine the shock
when I first heard myself sing.
So much for the,
“become a rock star”
career path.

Click on the link for more Magpie Tales.