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If Not For You

‘If not for you ‘Bri' I might have hated all men'
Sobering words my ‘little sis' said to me, 
But just where it happened, or even when, 
Is a window through which I can't see.

I know we were younger, probably in our teens, 
Between us there was just four years difference, 
But crowding my mind are so many scenes, 
With feelings waiting still for a dance.

If we both hated dad, well mom hated him too, 
Although as wage earners go, he was top notch, 
Problems lay more in what he didn't do, 
And mom's wrath squarely aimed at his crotch.

I think Dad always believed that Mom backed him up
But in her reality she'd never quail, 	
The right hand would show a supplicant's cup, 
While the left tied tin cans to his tail.

It's sad that women's share often goes unstated, 
Men rigidly plan how chores are divided.
Sure that traditional roles are fated
And sleeping volcanos subsided.
But such traditions in our home were not honored
Our mom's eruptions bursting forth from her core, 
Trophy children's dreams were all but interred
As their parents dreams had been before.

As a young man, my dad dreamed of seeing the world, 
And my mother dreamed of success with her art, 
But war and family these dreams unfurled	, 
Both their fantasies shaken apart.

Their strong differences made their children's affections	, 
A battleground that the two would fight over, 
Mealtimes always a time for corrections, 
Food versus rules, all seeking cover.

The affection dad sought was obedient fear, 
While mom seemed to relish her children's terror, 
The upside for her, it brought children near, 
And no one could charge her with error.

I think my dad was confusing fear with respect, 
My mom left looking for scraps at the table, 
And all of us really stuck in neglect, 
Giving love? Well, no one was able.
Of course love was given, of course love was taken, 
This poem, a photograph of a moment, 
Pain, tears and fear stirred well and then shaken, 
Of all families, a component.	

My parents marriage lasted almost sixty years, 
As children left they finally made amends, 
As her art flourished Mom gave up her tears, 
Dad at last got to travel with friends.

My sister and I throughout time have grown close.
Perhaps closer in fact than we've ever been, 
To say that she's loved, would that be verbose? 
Thanks sis, you helped me to trust women!

Brian Johnston
March 29,2014

Poet's Notes:
Just a family photograph, warts and all!



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