Born in my parents’ hometown.
April is the month of bluebonnets.Many pictures of Mom in bluebonnet fields,
None of me. My Mamaw lived there, and she loved me.
We were poor. We moved a lot, but it wasn’t hard.
We spent most weekends camping and fishing on the beach.
I am confident and unafraid.
My third grade teacher saw me for the genius I am
And put me in charge of things.
I liked being in charge of things.
Dad drank and smoked. He worked evenings
and weekends. He started taking his frustrations out on me
with his hand, switch or belt. I couldn’t protect the others.
They got it, too. But I was the main target.
It wasn’t tough love, it was meanness born of frustration.
But it hurt the same, regardless of the name.
Music saved me. I was good at it. My heart soared.
I played in the orchestra, I played in the band.
In high school I was a majorette and Drum Major.
Those are high profile jobs in Texas schools.
Life was finally tipping my way!
My sisters are better with remembering
family stories and names. I can meet a stranger briefly
and remember their name a year later. But I can’t remember
who went to the beach that time we had a singalong, or
what everyone ate at Dad’s favorite restaurant on
some anniversary or birthday. Does it really matter?
My sisters and my mother can! That’s enough.
The day I learned to diagram sentences was the day I knew
one day I would write. Mrs. Raley stood there, holding her chalk,
talking about predicate adjectives, and suddenly a veil dropped.
I understood parts of speech and how they depend upon each other.
I still remember how it felt to know that I knew. I knew English.
I really knew it. No one could ever take that away from me.