Saturday, April 23, 2011


Second thoughts on the story of my birth


My grandmother, my mother’s mother, died
of a massive stroke when I was two weeks
old. Conceived the first month of my parents’
marriage, born on North Broad Street in Philly
while my dad was in Temple Med School, I
always wondered how really welcome I
was in the world. And then this death. My mom
was the oldest of three daughters. She went
home to make all the arrangements. Got a
breast infection. Weaned me. And then came back

to North Broad to grieve and take care of me.
And my dad. When I was old enough to
understand this story I asked her, “How
did you do this? It sounds so terrible.”
She would smile and say, “Oh, but I had you.”
That was not consoling. There I was, a
weaned newborn, taking care of her mother-
less sorrow. When I was forty I heard
the “adopted aunt” of the family was
dying. My Mom let out an aside. “It

was so wonderful when Miriam would
come and get you in the middle of the
night when you were just born. She would let me
sleep and take you to sleep in bed with her.”
How had this great comforter been left out
of the first take on the story? It was
like my fairy Godmother had arrived,
in retrospect, and instantly taken
all my abandonment away. How can
a second thought, a second story, change


(Poetic form: ten lines, ten syllables to each line)

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