by Amy Williams
Grandma pronounces it “rough,” Southern Midland like rough o’er our heads / when we was young / usta call us Oakie / shouts we did nothin wrong, din’t deserve that / I listen to the recording I took that day, sort photographs, greedy palms studying that rough, that house when she was a round-faced budkin / tells me she was ornery / tells me she was wearing red lipstick doin’ the boogie woogie / tells me she loved Aunt Elise who told her O I got a boy picked out for you / and boy was he nothin like her brothers who called her fatty / Dad didn’t know, wasn’t ever home she says mom knew, didn’t do nothing. Gave me a complex / I look at her smiling in the Kodak with her son years later, years younger than me, cheekbones high, happy like I want to believe / he has stories too, the son / driving in California there were orange trees, he says / driving in California the engine speed screaming / he’s sitting in the kitchen telling me wide-eyed because he’s back there time traveling / said we’re driving to heaven / voice shaking / she saw angels / Dexamyl / what doctors were allowed to do / genealogy of hurt / it’s catching / it caught / I’m traveling too, listening to his voice rumbling low telling me I’m nothing / I’m traveling / stories I don’t tell / what it was like, that rough with mom and dad / what was it like, her brothers when they were kids / what boys were allowed to do / what men are allowed to do / reasons we don’t tell / stories we don’t tell
Amy Williams is a writer and international educator who currently lives and works in New Delhi, India. Her poems have appeared in Contrary Magazine and Sweet Tree Review.