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  • He says he remembers Kalkaska

    But not that she lived there

    He says that when he is driving

    He will notice a patch of land

    Or a lake that looks familiar


    But he remembers the Boardman River

    How she was baptized there

    And he, around eight years old,

    thought his mother was drowning

    Taken under by force by strangers chanting and singing


    He did not lose his mother that day

    That happened later, when he was fourteen

    Not in the way we lose a mother, through death

    But, longer, stranger sort


    Her voice turned long after the stroke

    The word “Mark” choked out of her

    The kids on the block made fun of her

    Mocked the way that she spoke, the clumsiness in her stride

    How he would have to carry her from the car to the house

    Up the stairs


    I imagine him kicking the shit out of anybody who said a bad word about her

    Anyone who threw stones at the house

    Or slapped him upside the head on the playground

    Anyone who taunted him

    Or said "Maaarrrkkk"

    All drawn out


    But I know that he didn't

    He buried that inside of him

    Didn't speak a word

    Or shed a tear in public

    But channeled that anger into music

    Escaped and never really left



    Only confided in a safe few

    Who would not ask questions, but witness



    Sometimes we talk on the phone for hours

    Sometimes we communicate through song

    A lyric so we don’t need to speak a word

    At a young age he asked me,

    Do you understand what it means when they sing,

    She’s so heavy?


    There are no pictures of what she looked like before the accident

    I can barely recall her face

    I don’t know if we share a resemblance


    There is only one photograph that I am aware of

    In an old frame, on a high shelf, in a room from my childhood

    I would ask about it when I was younger

    And my mother would reply,

    You would have been the apple of her eye, my dear

    The apple of her eye


    I would fantasize of her calling me that

    Over and Over

    Sing-song

    "You are the apple of my eye, darling, the apple of my eye

    You are the reason that I smile, dear, the only reason that I smile"

    In singing voice I did not know, but resembled my mothers

    But softer and more humble

    Like a jazz lounge singer, sad


    Sometimes I think that I can hear her,

    In the wind

    In the music

    In the birds


    Sometimes I wish that I had met her,

    Just once

    To get a good idea of what she looked like

    To see if we resemble one another

    Our mannerisms


    Sometimes I am convinced that I am her

    Leading my father through dark waters of the river

    Telling him over and over that he won't drown
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