Dogs 2010

SUBSTITUTE
(8/5/10)


I will stand
in front of
his grave
this weekend
in the land
of our birth

my older
brother
already dead
a year before
I appeared

older
seems
a misplaced term
in such
a case

my parent's
first baby
after two
miscarriages
and the first
grandchild
on either
side
of the family

named after
my father's favorite
sports star
with Dad's
first name
as his middle

the first born
fair haired
child
to carry on
the family name

but
somewhere
in the middle
of his second year
he became
very sick
starting
a long
drawn out
ordeal
of doctors
hospitals
tests
surgeries
and finally
an institution
for terminal
care

he died
in 1958
never to see
3

my parents
were devastated
as were
both families

I came
along
just over
a year later

my names
were picked
out of a hat
so to speak

neither
were ancestral
nor newsworthy

I was
a new beginning
but never
the first
as pictures
from photo
albums
and veiled
references
from relatives
reminded me

thoughts
of him
and his what ifs
have shadowed me
throughout
my life

my mother
once told me
in one of her
seemingly
more lucid moments
as the glioblastoma
gradually devoured
her brain

"you were
my miracle
child

I knew
that I had you
for a reason"

she beamed
as I drove her
to yet another
medical
disappointment

I wondered
if she knew
for sure
which
I was

she saw
so many
from the past
who were not
there

now
she is past
as well

I will stand
in front of
his grave
this weekend
and wonder
if he would
have done
anything
differently