Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Day Before I Died

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is my poem "The Day Before I Died":

The Day Before I Died

The day before I died,
I remembered my birth—
they slapped me hard
but I didn’t cry.
No one told me.
Then I grew into
a child standing in
the backyard with my
father who was flying
a kite for me.
He did all the work.
All I could do was
shriek with joy and
clap my three year old hands
and jump up and down,
unable to take the spool,
let out the string
or give any indication
of growing into
a strong young man.

The day before I died,
my mother called and
told me when I was small
she liked walking to town,
pushing me in my stroller
to Alice’s where she would
sit at the mahogany counter,
order a cherry Coke, then
use the payphone to call
Dr. Baker about my
cough or rash.
The day before I died,
my mother said to me,
“There aren’t any
neighborhoods anymore.
Things used to be safe.
It’s just not fair.”

The day before I died,
I wondered if anyone ever
watched me while I slept,
studied the contour
of my shoulder,
the slope of my back,
slowed their breathing
to settle with mine.
Did anyone ever do that?

©JEF 1995

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