by T.S. Kerrigan

For Betty Thompson on her 90th Birthday
You speak of them, your frieze of fallen men,
Your father, brothers, lovers, husbands, son,
As though they were alive and well again.
When guests arrive and lighter talk’s begun,
You smile, connecting every face and name.                   
Uncertain where to put your fragile hands,
You barely blow away each candle flame.
Your daughters whisper manifold commands.
The birthday gifts are opened, put away.
Their children, bored now, scuffle on the floor.
Old matriarch, the guests all gone away,
The house grown still, you speak of them once more,
Your father, brothers, lovers, husbands, son,
The strength it took to bury every one.

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