Saturday, March 12, 2016

Step-sibling

Well-treated, included, but no one 
has my features. This dinner, this occasion, 
is glutted with members of a family I’m familiar with 
but is not mine. I’ve accepted an invitation, 
an assumption. It’s a long story in years but not 
in the telling, although I’m grateful for acknowledgment,
if not emotion. I accept what is offered 
and ask for no more.

No one’s fault—as if being born
in the hills of a drastic country. By age ten 
you are what you’ll become, and you can consume
it, as most do, or spend a lifetime rejecting it.
My freedom was thrust upon me by tragedy—
the details are unessential—but I grew into 
my freedom or it into me, or, rather, splashed 
around in its waters—and still do—but never 
quite owned it. One turbulence replaces 
another.

I know faces but not names, nor who 
belongs to whom, whose child is that, 
whose wife? And why have I come? Something
fractured about family life, more so 
when the family’s not yours, not even your friends. 

I smile, remain silent, on occasional life
breathing into me, but I never release,
for who am I to express an opinion? We had
a short past—a few years—but no 
present, nothing ongoing, no commonality.
Restrain and be temperate. Are my sentiments shared 
by the others? I can’t say, although my discomfort 
might be less obvious than I think.

I eat, laugh, object mildly on a point—
have we a  language in common? I suppose so,
somewhere, but not here. More than a guest 
but less than a brother.

I stay longer than I should. The emptiness
of potential, my needs almost inflaming my skin,
but I won’t request what I won’t be given. I thank
everyone, say goodnight, and leave.

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