(Thanks for the advice, all you who posted and emailed. *s*)
I wrote this back in March. At the time, it held a lot of emotion for me. Reading it over now, I see that I can let it go, and let you read it.
It tells me too, why I've let the garden go this year, and go to seed. Next summer, I'll harvest again.
We did our best to keep him safe.
Winters, we sometimes kept my brother tented
under a sheet held up by chairs,
the vaporizer puffing out clouds of Vics.
February, I came home with a cold.
I stayed away. I was careful.
At the hospital, the nurse
looked at me when I sneezed,
So that's how he got sick.
She didn't say anything else
until my birthday
when my aunt brought me a gift:
Your brother's in the hospital,
and you get a present. That hardly seems fair.
They sent him home
but he couldn't eat.
He'd always been spoon-fed Gerbers
(I used to think the boy on the box was him; there were similarities.)
but my mom couldn't even get that down him.
My friend's mom was a nurse,
worked rehab, nursing homes.
She came over that night
with a tube.
It worked, but it was horrible to hear.
of a round black stone
falling from a white one
and a woman's voice said
My mother's screams
woke me then.
Seven A.M. sharp.
I remembered the dream,
and the dream time proceeding it –
it was the day still ahead of me.
My hardest day.
I didn't want to leave the bed.
I'd already lived through it.
But you can't stay in bed with your mother screaming
so I got up.
Walked through the house
to my brother's room.
She stood over the crib
Over my older brother.
I looked in.
His eyes were not closed all the way.
His eyes were looking up;
Slivers of pale grey and white.
She picked him up.
She cried out that he was dead.
And she handed me the body.
Hold him, she said.
You never hold him.
I sat with him on the edge
of the bed my mother had slept in, alone,
While she dropped to the floor.
Sat against the wall
staring at her children.
What should I do, Beck? She asked me.
She actually smiled.
What do I do now?
And the next, well,
it made her think
that he was still alive
that she had been mistaken
when she saw him draw his last breath.
That perhaps she was wrong.
It was a sound.
He's alive! She said.
Beck, his heart – check his heart is it beating?
It was something else.
I held him through the death rattle.
Not knowing what it was.
I've only named it in later years.
Learning of it,
listening to that sound again in my head,
matching description and circumstance to sound.
That's what it was, that sound. A death rattle. But at the time, I guess
I didn't have the right word, so my head made the rattle into something else.
I thought, when I heard that sound
That my brother's heart
had come loose;
actually broken from its stem
and fallen to the bottom of his hollow body
rattling against ribs
clattering down a ladder
with a sound like seeds shaken in a dry gourd.
Reading my own thoughts now
I wonder if my love of damp earth
of planting seeds
of trying to make something grow
started there in that room without my knowledge.
That every spring
I bury his heart
over and over
And wait to see what happens.
Both of us in the room.
Or really, three.
In body if not in spirit.
She didn't believe
so I told her again.
She came apart;
I told her
to call someone.
Daddy, at work (he'd gone in early that day).
Grandma, who took care of us – her own mother.
Isn't that who you want to talk to
when something this bad happens?
You want your mother.
So she did.
She got up, went to the kitchen phone,
My dad, first.
Then my grandma.
I listened from this room.
This room I can't seem to leave.
Things here get blurry now.
The still frames are dark;
perhaps burned or melted.
I remember what I wore the rest of the day
but I don't remember when
took him from my arms.
Or where he was placed
until the ambulance came.
How can you forget something like that?
Or, maybe I should ask
how do you forget the rest of it?
But my daddy was there, then,
and my Grandma
and others (Grandpa? Papa? Grandmonster?)
I remember when the ambulance left,
a stranger going into my brother's bedroom
where my parents sat on the bed.
I remember watching the door close,
my parents disappearing behind it,
and thinking a stranger's thoughts:
Now we close the door so they are alone to morn.
I went into the family room
sat down in my rocking chair.
I remember this clearly, because I had also dreamed it.
So when she came in, I already knew
my grandmonster would say
Oh, Rebecca, come sit on my lap!
and that I would refuse
and for once no one
would push me at her.
She sat on the couch next to the chair
Well. Now you have to make up for him.
As if I wasn't doing that already.
He was buried
I don't remember.
I was still in the room.
And I was at graveside
where the priest
couldn't remember his name,
got it wrong.
(But remembered us at Mass
Talked about a burial, how strong a family was
While we cried in the back pew.)
And I was at the house, after.
Where Jerry got me to smile.
His parents, who introduced mine,
drove across two states to be there.
It was a Thursday.
I was back in school on Monday
Apologizing about my homework.
I was excused by my teacher,
tears in her eyes,
and given the As I would have gotten anyway.
In class, they had said a prayer for my brother
on Friday. All my classmates,
all my friends,
who had not called, not come to the funeral.
No one thought to invite them.
But mine was the middle crisis
Ed's mom dying, leaving behind orphans,
And G's dad, who
shot himself when the doc found the cancer.
We were fourteen.
Labels: Letting go, Mona, Poetry Friday, seeds