My house is built on the weary shoulders of my mother and the strong arms of my father
For nothing but his steady grip and her world weighted shoulders could keep it steady
From the time I can remember the walls have shaken from the wind and the roof has leaked in the rain and the snow
But I have never felt more safe than when I heard snoring through the stockyard we called walls.
When my sister ran away my father cried and my mother stared at the mural on our wall with bitter resignation
She gave no care for a parents' opinion but I learned to listen to words unsaid
And emotions stifled by northern stoicism.
The first time my brother went to jail
My mother cursed until our fragile walls shook and my father could do nothing but shake his head
He did not know what tension he brought to family gatherings
With aunts and grandparents preaching false kindness with empty words and rueful eyes
But I learned to hold my trust like a poker hand and speak only when spoken to
Because family doesn't start with blood.
The first time my mother told me she could not send me back to school
I was too concerned with my own choking sobs to worry about the hitch in her voice
And when my father picked me up, he did not preach cancer and disease about the coffin nails in my pocket
Because for the first time we really understood each other.
And that New Year when family had sunk too far into my bones and I ran to a boy with no more care than the platitudes he preached
My father drove me to his house and smiled when I got out of the car
My mother only called me twice
It was because I couldn't look at the self loathing in their eyes or the infection of anger spreading from my fingertips
I didn't need their clear disapproval because it already itched beneath my skin
We were never white picket fenced or two point five children
We relied on taxes paid by neighbors and relatives who wanted to cut aid too many times
And had too many months of living lousy paycheck to aching poverty too many times to ever consider our lives the realization
Of some fifties rhetoric dream
But there was always toilet paper and bread
And though sleep was never easy and waking even harder
I always knew that my parents were those that gave me the strength to do either
Because I have my mother's shoulders and my father's arms
And when I build my home with the aid of another
I will know that though the walls may shake in the wind and the roof may leak in the rain and the snow
I will always keep my home together.



April 2015

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