When Did You Cry Last?

When did you cry last?

Was it when Mother left?
No, you were glad of it
For she was a product of a
Wretched product of
Wretched products and
She knew no better and
Hadn’t a clue
How to raise you, Sister dear,
And when I came along
I would find a closet
And cower and cry
For you, Sister dear,
While in the next room
You received unfair punishment;
Setup to fail time over time;
A strong will discouraged
Instead of guided, molded, shaped;
And your strength and spark returned
But never quite the same, Sister dear,
No, never quite the same.

Was it while Father was away?
No, I think perhaps you were
Glad of his ever-frequent business trips
For you were old enough then
To enjoy the time apart—
A grown-up-in-training;
And the new faces in the house,
Night after night, to watch
In case of emergency,
Did not seem to affect you—
You went about your day and night
Holding tight your collection of close friends;
By then your routine
Was pretty well established, Sister dear,
And you needed little parental care;
And it seemed you did not
Lament, as I did, the lack
Of a loving kiss good night,
Though I imagine back then
It was the strength of
Your strength that got you through,
But likely you pushed down, Sister dear,
The heartache that I openly displayed.

Was it a boy who made you cry?
I recall one night, looking down
The stairwell, you with your
Back against the wall and
Dave had your hands pinned
Over your head and I heard
Him speak stern words;
It may have been just
Rough play between two
Young adults, but the memories
Came flooding back, Sister dear,
And I could not bear
To see you hurt.
I have only known a few
Of the men in your life
And I am so sorry I could not
Be there when you became a wife,
Sister dear, because of my own
Strife at that time—
I am sorry, Sister dear,
That your wedding party lacked
Your only sibling.

Was it when my temper finally flared?
That was a day that I
Will never forget; how many
Times before had we played cat and mouse!
Only this time, I could not
Take it anymore, and, though
Verbally you still had the upper hand
I was bigger now;
And for so many years
You had turned around
And dished to me, Sister dear,
What you had received—
And that day's coercive guilt
Was no exception—I had just
Plain had enough;
And I thank God that,
After breaking down your bedroom door,
I had the restraint, Sister dear,
Not to lay a hand on you,
But rather, tell you how I felt
And let you know that the game had changed.
And I lament in retrospect, Sister dear,
That our situation growing up
Had led to that.

Was it when you were diagnosed?
The timing could not have been worse!
(Not that there is ever a good time!)
To receive the news so soon before
Your wedding day must have been crushing.
And I am so sorry, Sister dear,
That I could not be there more for you
Then, when you needed me;
And I thank God that Father was;
And that, together,
You beat the cancer back.

I like to think that you cried last
On your wedding night:
That throughout the day
Loved ones came and shared
In the joy and celebrated
The blessed day! That,
While the vows were exchanged
Mother and Father in attendance
Each teared up a bit and
Were comforted by their spouses;
And that, after a warm meal
And lovely reception, you and
Your new husband took to a
Charming hotel and spent
Your first night as Mister and Missus;
And that, perhaps,
In the wee hours, Sister dear,
You sat in an adjoining room,
On a large, plush chair,
In just a sliver of light
From the moon or a street lamp,
Beaming with delight as you
Recalled the day, and there,
Wept silent tears of joy.


Parker Allen Stacy, IV

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