Monday, April 18, 2011

Poetic Asides April 2011 Challenge Day 16RSVP’s to the Uninvited

RSVP’s to the Uninvited

She asks me if I remember you
And of course I do but still
We dig out the pictures from
Kindergarten on and there
Your awkward self smiles shyly

From the back row centre
Eyes roundly hopeful in your
Too-thin face you stare
Past the photographer; do you
See the future already, I wonder

Two tours in Afghanistan
She says, before you came home
And hung yourself in your Mom’s
Basement; I search your face
In each year’s class photo

Try to remember how you were
At birthday parties – ‘maniacally
happy’, she reminds me – you hardly
ever got invited to anything
“Except that damned war,” she says

“He felt invited to that “—
“No!” I exclaim. “He must have
wanted to go, or he wouldn’t have
gone back...”
 She shakes her head; no doubt
at my gullibility in this area, of all things

Bits and pieces of who you were
Float back to me for days ...
Frightened when the dog barked
Afraid to laugh out loud
Even when something funny happened

What makes some children so fragile
I remember pondering that back then
And find myself worrying over it again
Now after your death – staring at your
Photos, especially this one candid

I have a shot of you taken when you
Weren’t aware of the camera
You are standing off to one side
At a party at our place and the look
On your face breaks my heart

You look bewildered, a lost child
Of maybe six years old, you look,
With your shoulders rounded, chest
Caved in, haunted eyes – as if you
Have no idea where you are

Or worse, how you got there or why
Your mouth is partially open
But not in awe or as if you’re about
To smile, no – there is a look
Of such despair in your face

I wonder at having missed this
The first time I went through these
Pictures – I sigh and go to put them
Away – notice I have pencilled something
On the back of that most disturbing one

It’s your name and, “n,b.” (the Latin
Abbreviation for notation ...)
To myself, I have made the note –
“Try to find out what’s wrong here ...?”

Then, life must have got in the way
And I put you away with the rest
Of the pictures and put you
Out of my mind

As if someone has landed
A fist to my heart, I cry out
Oh no, oh no, oh no
How could I be so careless
With your sad little life, I wonder

I know how irrational I am being
I know that no one can be everywhere
At once, be all things to everyone
But right at this moment, I feel
So utterly inadequate, so much               
Not the person you needed me to be

As I turn that photo over and over
Trying to remember why I took it
In the first place – why photograph
A child’s misery if you weren’t going
To try and help the child?

My child has come back into the room
Sees me with the photograph
Takes it and says to me,
“Remember trying to get him help
Mom?” No, I really don’t ...

She is regarding me with something
I’ve come to recognize as pity
But at least she knows not
To question my faulty memory

No comments:

Post a Comment