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