Monday, December 20, 2010
Afflicted Street of Memory
Affliction inhabits houses
on my childhood street,
#428: Elmo was four when
the car jumped the curb and
mowed him down like overgrown
grass. Soundlessly he’d circle the block,
looking for home. My mother always
called him Poor Elmo and I never knew
he had a last name.
#912: Kathy’s legs, encased in metal,
could only move with crutches,
sounding like machine pulleys,
a clanking, grinding reminder that
polio hadn’t always been vaccined
against. She’d sit behind the big picture
window, smiling, watching us play.
#231: Virgil was always brash
and arrogant, like a dandelion
with deep roots, infesting
the neighborhood with breeze-driven
wisps of spore. No one knew he had
cystic fibrosis until he died at 31 and
we read his obituary.
#507: Ronnie, gifted, studied
to be an architect, and
after graduation joined
a monastery, devastating
his parents but he wanted
to save tortured souls like
his own instead of buildings.
The rest of us: mists, vapors,
borne for a time along the wind
but then dispersed, scattered,
dissipated, so easily forgotten
while the afflicted are
so easily remembered.
Photograph: Sunset over town by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.
This poem is submitted for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry. The links will be live at 6 a.m. Tuesday. To see other poems, please visit the site.