Michael, Younger Brother, Surviving Son Mama swollen with you when Butchie died, his head crushed by a red truck, set the stage for his echo. Today, you call to thank me for the hard candy, chamomile and lobster bisque I sent to soothe your throat slit from ear to ear by the hip Sloan-Kettering surgeon who yanked out your voice box and handed you a microphone.
Cigarettes, they say. I say, caused by your search to find your voice among four sisters, a mother in mourning and your old man who taught you to box when you were five, Prance, bob and weave. He taught you to waltz one Yuletide eve at the end of his leather belt, the buckle clipping your ear.
Startled by your rasping, electronic voice, I am the one who chokes and cannot speak. But then I see the Butchie voice is gone. And I hear hints of a younger, unformed voice, still yours, chanting your responses, kneeling on the marble altar steps in black cassock and white surplice, Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam: To God who gives joy to my youth.
Liz Dolan's second poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, was nominated for the Robert McGrath Prize. A five-time Pushcart nominee, she won an established artist fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, 2009. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was recently published by March Street Press and can be purchased through the press or at Amazon. She is most proud of the offsite school she ran in The Bronx and of her nine grandchildren who live on the next block in Rehoboth. They pepper her life.