Issue #54


My Children, Before I Knew Them

I should start by saying I don’t believe in reincarnation
but if I did, I’d believe my daughter died young,
perhaps in a motorcycle crash or drug overdose,
or she was shot in a homeless camp behind a mall.
And before that she may have been adopted from Asia, or India
too late, by a white colorblind family who never understood her,
went to school with boys who ignored or fetishized her,
never felt better than the first time she smoked
something out of a burned-out lightbulb.

My son would have died old, too old, to the point
no one wanted to visit.  His wife long dead, leaving him sick
of the NAs that came to wipe his ass between smoke breaks.
His family sick too, of his grumpy attitude and red politics,
his tendency to talk up the Reagan years, grunt, and forget
his grandchildren’s names. His chin was sunken
and when he did die in a small room built for dying,
the first woman that found his body walked out
because she had to pick up her kids from daycare
and did not have time to fill out the paperwork
before her shift was up.