working drafts – Flashback

Sections marked in [ ] are waiting for the right words or phrases to fall into place. That happens – either you stop writing to look for the right word and lose the next four ideas, or you leave it bare and come back later. Still writing, of course, which is why it breaks off on the second line of the fourth section.

for Sue and for so long


She straddled my chest, heavy, pressing, dripping water—
earliest memory, this dream still vivid, her
long hair hanging over my face
I was so scared, each time she arrived. I do
not remember so much, so much lost, nearly
all lost, but I can feel the mattress under me, be clutched again by the

dread, feel my toddler legs kicking the bunk bed above me
in which slept my big brother, hear his sudden shift as he
awoke, climbed down to me, chased her away again and again. He
never went to get our parents.


Surprised that the seven year old boy, kicked awake
every night by his three year old sister, had already
learned that protecting her was his job alone?
I remember, clear as smog, how rarely he said
no when I wanted his jacket, his hat, my chunky
arms lost in the shape of his, and how he

did all he could, little one guarding littler one, and how once
in the hospital, he climbed two chairs and a shelf,
agile as our pet squirrel, to reclaim my bear Brownie the
nurses had taken from me as I was allergic.


She straddled my chest so many nights,
enough to be indelible memory. She
looked like my cousin Rhonda, so
I tried to remember her as a child’s
inaccurate memory, or maybe a
[ ] of Morticia Adams or [ ], those long
afternoons in the heyday of Dark Shadows.

During a body work session once, in my guided
intention to focus on the root of my
asthma, I understood her as a metaphor,
nothing more than how a child’s mind gave


shape to what it could not comprehend. An
elegant explanation.


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