Thursday, April 9, 2009

April poem no. 9

Today's April PAD prompt is to write a poem about a memory -- good or bad, a blend of several memories, or even of a memory I'm not sure I remember correctly.

This poem is about the afternoon in July, 1949 we found out my favorite Uncle Phil, my mother's younger brother, was in a plane crash. Later that evening we found out he was dead. I was 9 years old, living in Chicago, just after my sister was born. My uncle was on his way home to Los Angeles.

I Didn’t Have Time to Worry

My mom stood at the changing table with my sister
I lay across the big, red plaid club chair reading a book
and, suddenly my dad was standing in the doorway of my room,
silent, not saying hello or anything.
“Look, Daddy’s home,” I called out.
I looked at the clock on the bedside table
It was too early for him to be home.
My mom put the last pin into my sister's diaper,
pulled up her rubber pants, and pulled down her dress.
“Give me the baby,” he said.
His voice was soft and calm.
He was not smiling.
His shirt had circles of sweat under his arms
and his hands were shaking.
As my mother handed him the baby,
she asked in a whisper,
“What’s the matter? What’s happened?”
“It’s Phil," he said.
He looked at me and patted the baby's back.
"There’s been a crash.”
“I knew it, “ she cried, sitting on the bed.
She fidgeted with the belt on her cotton sundress.
She reached for a tissue.
My heart was pounding so hard that
I couldn't understand what my parents were saying.
This was my favorite uncle they were talking about
I heard their words – unscheduled flight,
mountains near Burbank, California,
no word about survivors yet –
as if I was in a dream.
“I was so busy with the baby,” she said.
“I didn’t have time to worry.
“That’s why it happened.
“I didn’t have time to worry.”

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