Monday, January 24, 2005


(A 1958 model New Moon trailer, 10 feet by 50 feet -- looks almost exactly like the one we lived in from 1958 to 1964)


I don't remember why the trainers had to come off
but I would bet money it was not because
you asked. My guess is that Daddy was as
always in a hurry to grow you up, you the
afterthought son. While working on the car
he beckoned you over,
selected a snap-on from his box
and with a few wrist turns
there was a bicycle you had to hold up
because the kickstand was long gone.

He carefully put away the wrench,
finished his Camel with a drag, and told you to hop on.
He promised, as he had with me, that he would not let go.
But of course two spaces down the trailer park road
he pulled his hands away from your fender and you were
on your own. Within two strides -- if he had been striding beside you --
a wobble and down you went, crash of metal and dust.

But before Mama could call out from the porch
or Daddy could stop laughing, you were seated again
pumping away. Pump, pump, crash.
Pump, pump, crash. Your hands and knees were bleeding
but your mouth was glued grim
and you did not look back.

After a while it was clear
you were not going to loop our way.
Daddy told me to get my bike
and go after you.

I don't remember what I said to persuade you back.
I do remember blowing on your palms
after mama doused them with monkeyblood
holding them gently between my own hands

© Maggie Jochild
15 June 2005, 6:09 a.m.


no worries no fear
that's what she felt
after she watched them
working on her from a
high corner, then slid on through
above the hospital
on her way she said
now she'd learned death
was not hard just a hop
but then her mother
the one she never knew
appeared beside her
told her to return
no more children without
their mother so she
came back into pain
a pulse again after two minutes
she did it for us she said
it was meant to reassure

© Maggie Jochild
24 June 2005, 12:42 a.m.


When I was eight, I woke one dawn in the southwest corner room
of the house my grandmother had raised my Mama in
A county where my people moved from other Southern states before
they could be sure they'd live to plant a crop because the Kiowa
and Comanche were fighting still to stop us in our tracks

I knew all this in the snub way an eight-year-old can know such things
I heard my grandma tell of how she used to watch for wolves when she
went out to fetch the cows at dusk. And when my grandad looked up at
the orange gravid moons of fall and said Now thet there is
Comanch moon
something in his tone of voice would stir the
fine hairs on my neck. But these are what is handed down
The way a meal was not complete without a gravy, extra starch
and salt and fat to be sweat out while working in the fields all day
A story I would likely add my best yarns to but not mine yet

But that one morning, still blue dark where pin oaks and acacia trees
that ran the fenceline just beyond my window were the home of
many birds, mourning doves and tanagers, cardinals and mockingbirds --
There in among the chorus was a voice I didn't think I'd heard
A solo call of pip-pip-oooooo
coming in a chord below the rest of those who called the sun

My little brother, not yet five, lay in the bed right next to me
and on the screened-in porch slept my mom and dad. But in that call
I recognized I was alone: No one else would ever know
what I thought and felt, no matter how I told, and when it came my
time to go, like Charlotte in her wondrous web, no one would be there
when I died, not even if they held my hand

At breakfast I did what I could to imitate the morning bird
and Mama, who had been a girl in that same room, looked at my face
and said it was a whippoorwill. She saw the tears that I held back
but did not try to comfort me because it is the nightjar's job
to wake us into grief

© Maggie Jochild
15 July 2005, 9:22 p.m.


Something set him off
Doesn’t matter what
I started running
Feet sliding on linoleum
Outside doors blocked
Bedroom doors don’t lock in trailers
At the end of the hall
My parents’ room
He played halfback, no way to
Dodge him and double back
His blue jeans were tight and full
The broomhandle was bright orange
I went to wall in the closet
My mother’s side
Grabbed her dresses to my face
The first solid blow drove me to my knees
But I held onto the dresses
There is a sound of
Wood on scalp
That percusses inside the head
I don’t understand why I can’t
How it must have hurt
But I do retain
The fragrant silk and cotton
Lapping at my face

© Maggie Jochild
1 September 1996, 7 p.m.