in the beginning
I can see in her hands that she hasnt
had the easiest life, decades of poverty and uncertainty,
can see her pretty mother in that ancient kitchen
inhaling the gas, snuffing out her existence,
can see her and her sisters living with their alcoholic
father in apartment house basements, eating three-
day-old bread, until the stepmother
came along with a daughter of her own,
can hear her first husband, my dear father,
groaning and moaning, the stomach cancer
consuming him in his mid-thirties,
sticking her alone with three obnoxious sons,
can smell her despicable second husband divorcing
her when she was 72 because he ran into
his high school sweetheart after all these years
and wanted her instead.
No, she hasnt had the easiest life
and I can see the whole thing in her hands,
the thin, powdery skin covering slim blue veins,
the long, pink fingernails at the ends of tired fingers.
In the beginning, when I was a baby,
she used those fingers to comb my silky pure hair,
and wash me, and try to push her sore,
red breast into my gaping selfish mouth.
Copyright © 2003
Michael Estabrook writes, "Im a Marketing Communications Manager for a tiny division of a large company, and man, going into an office every day can be excruciating. The stuffy air, the florescent lights are killing me. Thankfully I can retire in 15 or 20 years. But I still think that somehow Ive got to get myself on some boat collecting phytoplankton, or into the hills of Montana searching for TRex bones. Then again maybe I simply shouldve stayed on Northfield Avenue where I belong and learned to fix cars like my Daddy did."
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