Guest Poet Roger F. Krueger

My Sister Barbara

I can find myself in a picture taken at your wedding.
I was small then and didn't understand
much about weddings, but the cake was good
that much I knew, and
your dress was pretty and,
you would be leaving us
for a long time, but I knew you'd be back again
because you loved us, too, as well as Joe.
Mom told me that.

It is summer again and I am older,
married now,
and the way in which you
let us, your guests, sleep in before
preparing breakfast
so beautifully, right down to pouring the coffee
as you laugh at a small joke I offer
tells me that Mom was right.

I can still see that courage in your laughing eyes,
and I know it was there
on that morning when Joe died and
you held him for the last time,
the dew still clinging to the grass in your yard,
the sun not quite at the point of declaring a new day
full of promise and commitment,
the day your son was to marry.

You held your grief inside you,
a secret pain that had to be shared
after the celebration.
It had to be shared after,
because later
there would be time.

for healing the wounds that
never heal,
that scar inside you that reminds you
that someone is missing from your life.

And now you are the one who is missing.
I can still hear the ocean.
I can still
hear the song
as we drove back from the ocean.
I touch my scar again and you are there,
and you remind me of who I am.
Your brother
who misses you.

February, 2000

Roger Krueger's Questions:

1.  At the beginning of this poem I use a different "voice" that of a child speaking and then I move into an adult situation where the language changes.  Does this produce an inconsistency in the tone of the overall poem or does it work to help capture that distinct difference between how we perceive what happens in our lives as we grow older?

2.  Should I just cut the last line, "who misses you" since basically that is understood by what has already been said?

3.  Are poems this personal in nature better kept private and shared among family and friends or do they speak effectively where they should be shared with a larger audience?

The Albany Poetry Workshop