Someone enters your life
on a day you no longer
remember. The years pass,
and she becomes the mother
you never had, the older
sister smoking before breakfast,
the first friend. She lies back
on the worn sofa in the heat
of summer and shares a season
of baseball. When you are
twelve she explains the world,
how the people were sold
down the river, how someone
will always work and waste
away to these essential bones,
muscles, and tendons. She explains
your brother, who at sixteen
needs two clean shirts a day
and will grow to command, she
explains you, who will never,
and she blesses you with a hand
mussing your hair. One day
she is gone, over forty and she
has fallen in love again,
and love has taken her off
to a man with one leg
and no prospects. A postcard
from California and then
a silence that lasts.