by Jacqulyn Foster Weiss

But Mama, I’m the one
Who’s still here. Not my
Brother. “He’s gone.” You
Said that horrible night.
(Much too soon.) The
Favored one, so dear.

Sorrow stays with his
Loss and you look at me
With wonder. There’s
No answer when someone’s
Years cease at thirty. Your
Baby. Your boy. Yes. Your
Favorite child.

But Mama, I’m still here. I
made a place in my house,
My family, for you and your
Sadness. It haunted my life
And defined our days. For
Twenty years you never
Accepted his absence or
My presence. We gave
Our daughter your son’s
Name to honor his life
And perhaps, define hers.
It wasn’t nearly enough
For you.

I recognized emptiness
On your aging face that
Told me that Brother defined
Your life even in death. I could
Not compete. But Mama, I’m
The one who’s still here.

My first family is fading and we
Two remain. Can’t you love me
As you did him? Anger propels
Me and I react. Badly. I demand
To know why he occupies space
That could be / should be mine.
You can’t or won’t answer. Maybe
He took you with him when he left.

But Mama, I’m the one who’s still here.

I feel cheated by his loss
And by your inability to
See me. But Mama, I’m the
One who’s still here. And now,
You are gone, too.

We never solved the sorrow.

Are you together? Are you
Happy at last? Is he? Did it
Take a while to find each other?
I wonder. I’m the last one left.
I’ll tell the stories and treasure
The memories. Because, Mama,
I’m the one who’s still here.

Jacqulyn Foster Weiss is a seventy-five-year-old retired community college administrator, and former librarian, who lives in Palm Springs, California. An inveterate reader, she writes poems, essays and endless messages to family and friends. Growing up on a farm outside Natchez, Mississippi, she was surrounded by stories that continue to define her life. Her favorite beverage is a glass of tea with lots of ice.

Image by mbll from Pixabay.

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