Remembering Zoe

For my daughters Amy Zoe and Brett
One named after you
and one whose heart was nearly broken
when we nearly missed the train
that took us
to meet her Grandma
for the very first and only time

But mostly for me
Your wayward son
who rarely found the time to visit you–

Thank you for all the $20 bills
that came unsolicited through the mail
assuming I could use the money
because I had a family

And for the examples that you set–
Cheering on the girls I grew up with
who played a sport
or sang a song
or gave a speech against oppression
Telling them they were a credit to their sex

Thank you for your courage–
Standing up to Jim Crow rules
relegating blacks to balcony seats
‘He’s not a black. He’s a little boy
He’s with us and we don’t care for the balcony’

Thank you even for your anger
when I tried to quit my Babe Ruth League team
because we had no uniforms
and a manager we did not respect
Telling me point blank
‘You’re no quitter’
Go back to your manager and apologize
And while you’re at it
try to play better’

And lastly let me thank a schoolmate
I met at a school reunion who said to me–
“I remember you and how nice you always were to your mother”
It did not excuse my callousness
But it did make me feel better for my mother

The Bard of Appanoose

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