My father Sister and Brother
Have preceded my mother.
My sister deleted her mind.
Her Earth-Mother body
Calmly continued that gentle sleep
But when it was plain that she was gone.
We turned it off.
Her pain ended, but our mother saw
That body peaceful empty
The round cheeks rosy
The lips full still.
Mommy’s death began with that, I think.
Our brother, mad and hard
Frightened the neighbors
And returned to the streets and fields
And we haven’t heard from him in years.
He’s dead too.
Gladys was father and mother to us.
After twenty-six years held as house help
She saw that we must leave
And took her brood to a new life
Wherein she worked beyond reason
And gave her best years to freeing us.
In that vise of necessity
Her mind burst
More than once.
Yet she returned to shelter the young
Again and again.
When the youngest
The gift and giver left us
Her floating into gray.
As fog filled her head
She wandered ever more
Until she lived within a minute always new
Or in a past
Where she kept things neat
And in good repair
And the little ones never lacked for her care.
The needle skipped
Back into the same groove
Or farther still
To a song long done
An echo fading past empty arches
Sometimes I was my Uncle Ted
And that was good
Then after years of disjoint minutes
I saw the eyes that had seen more than their fill
That had looked with love and fear and wonder
If my series ever goes into reruns
Please cancel it.