By Carol Barrett
I find myself starting to repeat
the names, like Mom did,
from the top, so she could get
to the one she wanted. I’m beginning
to wonder if we will go
in that order, oldest first.
If so, I’ll be number two, endure
just one more family funeral.
Already the first-born has fallen
down the stairs, just last month,
crushed her collar bone. I remove
throw rugs, tuck my phone close.
She crawled upstairs, stumbled out
to the car for hers. Raining.
Imagine the pain. I could be called
on to speak for her, and then
for the four behind me in line.
Help us swallow. Take the next
breath. There are things
I need to do. But who doesn’t want
another year or two to cross
things off the list, watch
a child sail into her own, help
a stranger survive the cold?
God, it’s cold. Winter holds us
hostage. Ice gleams on the road
happy in its arrogance.
I close the blinds. And the names
repeat. Six of us. Like bells.
my mother calling
someone to her side.
Carol Barrett, Ph.D., coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program for doctoral students at Union Institute & University. She has taught courses on Poetry and Healing for several universities. Carol has two poetry collections out: Calling in the Bones (winner of the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press) and Drawing Lessons. Her creative nonfiction book Pansies was a recent finalist for the Oregon Book Awards. Her poems appear in a wide array of magazines including JAMA, Poetry International, The Women’s Review of Books, Persimmon Tree and Bellevue Literary Review.