Memoir Poem: Family

Both my parents were born

in the Year of the Horse

and horses were considered

impossible to marry,

impatient, competitive and highly strung.

Father was a miniature show pony

with short legs that kicked surprisingly hard

especially when you were already down.

He cheated around to confound

my anxious know it all mother

who was a Stallion in comparison.

She emasculated him with her

superior intelligence and quick wit

that’s when he would hit

slap her to make her quit

proving him wrong again.

My sister was regal and mean

Cinderella and the Evil Queen

all in one over-achieving persona.

She hid the family’s blunders

under cheerleader cheerfulness.

She was voted Friendliest in her high school

Brady Brunch defined her normal.

I hated her for hating me

for torturing my childhood with jealousy.

She preached to me day and night about

Salvation Damnation Condemnation

and the secondary role of women.

My brother was the only safe ally.

He wasn’t perfect, but mostly was to me

a savior an anchor a mentor

more father to me than our father.

He earned the respect

Father never could get.

Coercion and force breed rebellion.

Brother gave me books, movie passes,

spending money for simple chores.

He understood empowerment

how to share wealth and knowledge.

Everyone needs at least one ally to survive childhood.

These memories grow old with me

of a lost life I strangely miss

despite the injustice and terror.

Those rare good times we had

shine brightly in the darkness.


  1. All it takes is one person who takes an altruistic interest in a younger person, and becomes a sort of coach to that younger person. A coach who can teach empowerment and self-respect. An enlightening poem, Judy !

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