poetryrepairs #238 v17.06:065

KELLEY JEAN WHITE : After the funeral my cousin gives us the tour
KELLEY JEAN WHITE : At ninety-one

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After the funeral my cousin gives us the tour

of the house she designed with her father in mind--proud of doors wide enough for walkers and wheelchairs, brilliant safety-lit bath tub with a rim wide enough to un-bandage bed sores room for two hospital beds adjusted for two different deaths that took place in a hospital after all, the house empty but for one small room on the second floor stuffed with the things of our childhood. My mother doesn't take those steps. She sits in the kitchen, sorting through pictures, here are six of one, half a dozen of the other--finds the one of the day of the twice stolen chestnuts. She is a toddler, my auntís, buster brown cut and buster brown grinning our grandfather's hands spread on those heavy work knees. Her brother alone mounts the stairs to the attic, unwraps the judge's conundrum souvenir, swastika red and black bundle, two Nazi pistols, a small pair of boots. My cousin's remembering the day the judge, her father, went off on that last gambling trip to AC, and later, her mother, pushed, wheeled to his bedside, knew him one more hour, whispered his name. In wedding pictures my mother stands looking, dressed just like her sister. She cannot tell us the best man's name. There are pictures--nameless babies--which is me, which is a cousin? My aunt on a tricycle, with my uncle in Cape May. And who knew my aunt was champion archer? Who would have guessed she was good with a bow?

poetryrepairs #238 v17.06:065

At ninety-one

mother you take iron steps on legs of bruised flesh muscle spun away mother you say your eyes leak your ears leak water on your pillow you are filled with salt tears mother you cannot hear you cannot see but you speak I hear this wind is ours this sky turning blue through darkness this sunlight this birdsong this year

poetryrepairs #238 v17.06:065


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KELLEY JEAN WHITE a pediatrician worked in inner-city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent books are TOXIC ENVIRONMENT (Boston Poet Press) and TWO BIRDS IN FLAME (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 PCA grant.