Twelve

You pulsed in forehead lump from tree smack
after ecstatic dash from DB, my first crush.

You surged while LK from Hungary 
then HG in recovery stayed in our attic.

Where were You, Love, when we moved back to 
Michigan once more during Christmas break?

You tunneled deep with indelible heart words
through my reading eyes, poet ears, piano fingers.

You blessed our going by Mrs. L's stitching our names
on corduroy peanut pillows, mine red, N's blue, J's green.

And blessed our coming with fridge and cupboard 
full of groceries from Dad's sponsoring church.

Eleven

Mom was pregnant when I was eleven.
Nancy cuddled her doll baby in eager expectation.
The still-birth hit her hard she tells me now.
But I was carefree, dashing across the street 
to Doreen's house to watch Mickey Mouse Club
or pre-occupied on the sidewalk for hours
keeping the hula hoop whirling on my waist.
There were memorable times with Mom:
May walks in Lilac Park; summer picnics and camping;
singing in the car on the way home.
Best of all were our Skip-a-Cross games
after the younger kids were in bed.
Yet most times I was content alone or with
my friend Alice whose tree we climbed.

Ten

Helen wrote poignant letters raising funds
for four-year old blind orphan boy at school.

Laura spent the summer caring for her
baby sister and bringing in the cows.

Mary did chores, walked to school, studied hard,
walked home, did more chores, taught siblings each night.

Ida knelt in church, thinking less of God
than how her red ribbons and white coat looked.

Zora beamed with joy reading all the books
the women from Minnesota sent her.

Ann was mad at first when Dad's mission brought 
them to New York and Mom took her savings.

Kathy realized her parents welcomed all,
unlike other whites on Indian land.

Cindy ran for police to keep Dad from
killing Mom, kept her own abuse secret.

Daisy spent summer on Long Island with
parents, sister, and writer grandmother.

Malala prayed "Bless us and protect us.
No, not just Pakistan. Bless all the world."

Nine

We were going places, meeting people.
From Grandma's house I was allowed to walk
to Cherry St. Playground, taking Billy.
But when I wanted to leave he didn't 
so I said "We can go a different way"
and finally he agreed. But I realized 
after a tiring detour we were lost.
A kind lady drove us to Sigsbee St.

Excited to travel by herself, Jean
flew West, spent Easter Break with grandparents 
at the mission house in New Mexico.
Got her hair braided, admired Zuni clothes
and was awed by native ceremonies.
Why did Grandpa and Grandma frown on them?

Twenty years later Jean's son spent summer
weeks in Greenbelt with Grandma Marjorie 
who wrote: Nine-year old had fun at the pool,
more fun after the high school dudes showed up--
trying new moves, one-hand or no-hand dives;
racing those two, loaning them his goggles.
All fun, no talk till leaving, one asked "What's 
your name?" "Judah" "Good name." Three smiles.