Two poems by Marc Swan

Before Mother Married Father

Scrambled eggs, bacon and toast,

coffee steaming between them

in the Red Robin Diner

in Johnson City New York,

she listens to her older brother,

recently married, visiting from Florida.

He sells cars, lives in a tract home

in Sarasota, no plan for kids.

Conversation shifts to a man she met

with eight brothers and sisters,

father a draftsman at IBM,

mother at home with younger children.

She thinks of her family—

mother emigrated from France at 16,

father grew up in foster care.

Her brother fifteen hundred miles away,

no nephews or nieces ahead,

she feels a pull to the man she recently met

she’ll follow for fifty-four years

when he starves to death

in a nursing home after breaking a hip,

refusing to eat, nurses unaware

of a denture stuck in his throat.

She doesn’t know