I wrote a book, an entire novel
I will never know the value of
to anyone except myself.
A story written during one of those
years of estrangement families have,
an interval which ended with some gentle
words and touching, not unpleasant, and not
any hardy hugs that might as easily spring
from violence as good will, but little hugs
that didn't hurt and didn't seem to ask
a single question.
An interval which ended with my mother
standing in the middle of the bedroom, saying,
Oh, I wish there was something I could give you,
and foraging through every closet, sliding metal
hangers on the pole, and offering suits and coats
and dresses; later the same day, a small
azalea bush from the side yard.
I drove back to Massachusetts with the dresses
and the shrubbery, knowing in what way
what I had written would only make them sad,
would only frighten and bewilder those two
Pennsylvania women: mother, sister.
I wasn't afraid that they would be mad.
I only thought of sad, and said to Larry in the car,
Well, I won't be publishing my book after all.
Oh, Larry said.
The whole thing down the drain, I told my friend Jo.
Well, maybe when they're dead, she said.
Oh no, I said. No. Most of all, not then.
Cover image by Michael Dziedzic.