This is an email from Matthew Spira's Poetry, a newsletter by Matthew Spira.

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Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

CLAIRE
It’s been thirty-five years
maybe thirty-six
I doubt many remember
or think about you
but I do.

You came into our lives
as our babysitter
housekeeper really
You were nice and funny
taking care of us
you became the friend
my sister desperately needed
every kid in the neighborhood
coming to you because
you listened in ways
our parents never did.

You stayed with Mr. Jim
far too long for all the reasons
women put up with
abusive boyfriends or husbands
mister-motherfucking-Jim
with his three ex-wives
no money for alimony
or child support
but hey, look at that
cherry red Ford Mustang
three horses and
shotgun collection.
He called the police
to his own apartment
because we were making
too much noise
during a sleepover.

You took up with Mr. Lloyd
the married mechanic up the street
for all the reasons women
desperate for love and attention
find it in the wrong places.
We went to that fair at the VFW
when we were done
you and my sister warned me
Mr. Lloyd was just a nice man
giving us a ride home.
We climbed into the bed
of his pick-up. Oh, Claire…
His wife and kids
in the cab looking back at us
you and Kirsten pretending
everything was hunky dory.

The next day
Mr. Jim was first.
He showed up
at that small apartment
you had finally gotten
for yourself
demanding you back
or at least your money.
Then Mrs. Lloyd
knocked on the door.
When Mr. Lloyd found you
later that afternoon
you were already in a coma
if you tried to kill yourself
or accidentally overdosed
on your insulin
they couldn’t tell
maybe wouldn’t say.
We went to Arizona
for the summer
but we returned home
just in time
for your funeral.

There you were
in your coffin
your eyes closed
your face painted
the way morticians do
when death has already
started to do its job
too quickly
for polite society
you were twenty-eight.

Looking around
there was your son
I had met him before
who was scared of water
and your ex-husband
decent guy you said
you still kind of loved him
he couldn’t put up
with your zaniness his word
and the way you
constantly re-arranged
the furniture so when
he came home at night
he couldn’t find the bed.
My parents, me
Kirsten devastated
our baby sister Lisa
you had sung to her
claimed you couldn’t sing
but I overheard you.
Others in your family
your mother and father
some few others
Mr. Jim and Mr. Lloyd
not invited.

I would see them
sometimes afterwards
Mr. Jim in that
fucking red mustang
Mr. Lloyd at work
in his garage
his wife one day
bringing him a sandwich.
Then we moved away
permanently, this time.

I’ve never been back
to that neighborhood
I don’t know what happened
to any of them, not
your son or ex-husband
Mr. Lloyd and his wife
or Mr. Jim, fucked be his name.
I presume they lived their lives,
whatever that means.
But I will someday return
to search out your grave
I hope to find fresh flowers
already on your headstone
but if not, if nothing’s there
I’ll put some down carefully
say hello and tell you about
Kirsten and her sons
Lisl and her daughters
and of my children.
When I leave I hope
the cemetery workers
see my peonies and know
you were not forgotten.

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Photo by Romain Lours on Unsplash

TOM
I know a guy
let’s call him a friend
yeah, he’s a friend
heroin’s going to kill him.

His body, shutting down
he knows it, we know it, his daughter…
of course he’s been in treatment
over and over
reciting the mantras chapter and verse
his mind understands
but his body craves
oh, does it crave…
What do you say to him?
What can you say?
Tom, you stupid motherfucker.
Tell me something I don’t know.

If tomorrow
brings unsurprising news
I can’t pray
to a God I don’t believe in
but I can love my friend
is that enough?

Tom, let’s keep it simple
the fight today
is to have a today.
Fuck that tomorrow.
Fuck the siren song.
Fuck giving up.
Let’s celebrate today
everyday just like this
just keep fighting
not today, not today
it’s your enough.
Don’t thank me,
go hug your daughter.

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Matthew Spira

Written by

Just a middle-aged dude doing middle-aged things. Poetry repository: matthewspira.org. 1st collection, The End of the Rainbow, on sale: amzn.to/2x5uj

Matthew Spira

Ever-growing collection of poetry. Now with audio (in-progress)!

Matthew Spira

Written by

Just a middle-aged dude doing middle-aged things. Poetry repository: matthewspira.org. 1st collection, The End of the Rainbow, on sale: amzn.to/2x5uj

Matthew Spira

Ever-growing collection of poetry. Now with audio (in-progress)!

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