Those words I said,
Shoving them at you,
Across the tight space
of the living room.
My brother had gone down,
Exploding into the face of the desert.
Vietnam was waiting,
And the plane was a place where he
could be proud,
A thing he could not be with you.
You stood there,
While I hurled my pain at you.
“It was your fault,” I said. “You drove him to it.”
Did my words shatter inside you?
For years, they burned in me,
Past college, marriage, children.
And then, with daughters
in their twenties,
I began to worry,
I began to see.
I picked a time,
My voice dry, metallic.
“Mom,” I said, “do you remember?”
But you didn’t.
You had let it go,
Dissolved in the face of other losses, other days.
I had to tell the story again,
But you brushed it by.
For you, it had never happened.
Can forgetting be forgiveness?
There I sat, with my words in my lap,
Having carried them all this way,
Thinking they had been your burden.
Beth Mills is sixty-seven years old, and has been writing poetry since she was a child. Her grandmother was a poet, and included one poem in every letter she sent to Beth. Her father loved poetry too. One of her favorite memories is of lying on the rug in the living room while he read “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” to her. She taught poetry and poetry writing for forty-three years, during her career as an elementary school teacher.