Do You Remember
Do you remember Papa?
No. I guess that was long before your time.
But I remember the bananas
He used to hide in overall pockets
And ask whose little boy are you?
Do you remember Johnny?
Just asking makes me cry. You are not supposed
To take your last bicycle ride
When you are just 7 years old.
Brothers should never part and in ways
Never do; never have.
Do you remember Mama?
Stern. Unyielding. Not just Hardshell Baptist,
But Militant Hardshell Baptist. Who told me
No man had ever seen her naked, that she had
Never tasted liquor, that she had never said a “curse” word.
Even at 10, I thought that was so sad.
Do you remember Grampa?
With kindness from every pore?
We fished and fished in my last summers
Of childhood. I still see him huddled
In the back of the boat with a pail
Over his head as we tried to outrun a storm.
Do you remember Pop?
Not everyone remembers him the same.
To some he was the devil and maybe worse.
But he never showed that side to me. He was sometimes
Not much of a father, but then could be even more.
He could sell anything to anyone; charm with ease; and
Never grew up, never. . .
Do you remember Chubby?
When I was five, she grabbed my left hand
In her left hand and whacked me for some sin.
With every blow I smacked her back in a circular dance
Until she had to stop due to tears of laughter.
Few grandmothers are called Chubby
But she kept that name to the end
Far past her chubby days.
Do you remember Mother?
It is so sad that my children don’t. Born too late.
But I remember her blue eyes and a spirit never quelled.
And the hand that I held as I counted time
Between breaths until no other came.
Do you remember Russell?
Scamp. In every positive meaning of the word.
Whose laughter never ended. Home on leave one time,
In a matter of hours, we were involved in two fights
And a hit and run. That cackling laugh kept on going
All night long.
Do you remember Norma?
Mother was afraid of her at first because she was so loud.
Only to learn of the goodness within. And Grampa
Couldn’t smoke a cigarette with her cleaning the ashtray
Three times before it was a just a butt.
Do you remember them all and the stories that went with
No probably not……probably not.
Do you remember me?
Michael F Mathews
March 25, 2013