Births And Deaths


This paper names him John,
my mother called him Joe
when we were children
and she still talked to us.
Pneumonia killed him
in her parents’ home,
but eight months old,
his father written witness
to his death.
So short a time from joy to grief.

She never spoke of him again,
his name interred in silent pain,
dumbness with the deafness
that isolated her.
Somewhere surely
there must be a grave
unvisited for a century now,
a silent place that holds
some of the love she could not share.

Nineteen years later
on that same date
she bore me too
remembering perhaps
the day her first child died.


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