It happened again like so many times before.
I was at my sister’s house,
standing at the kitchen counter
with her neighbor,
someone I had just met.
We talked about what a great day
this had been in Portland
and asked, isn’t my sister’s garden just beautiful
and what do you do for a living
and where are you originally from?
Then, there it was,
the dreaded question,
just after I had tossed the salad greens
added the tomatoes to the bowl
and sliced in the avocado,
“How many children do you have?” she asked.
And never missing a beat
I said, I had two
but now, only one.
My oldest son died.
Then I left the room to get myself together
and wonder what she and my sister were saying
while I was gone.
Madeline Sharples co-authored a book about women in nontraditional professions called Blue Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994) and co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, volumes 1 (Muse Media, 2004) and 2 (due out in 2010). More of her writing can be read at http://madeline40.blogspot.com/ and http://www.redroom.com/member/madeline40.