Partially True

She left her family
back in Dallas.
Her sisters,
all three of them,
and her two brothers.
One older,
one younger.

Like my mother,
I inherited three sisters,
and two brothers.
One older,
one younger
and another that died at birth.

He died when I was in fourth grade.
And, when my teacher Mrs. Weintraub asked,
as she unlocked the classroom door,
“How’s your baby brother?”
I said to her,
knees trembling,
standing in a single file line,
“He’s purple and swollen. He’s dead.”

I repeated what my eldest sister said
the day he was born dead,
when I asked, “How is my baby brother?”
Her words wet with tears,
stumbling on her quaking lips,
as she enveloped the hospital phone,
“He’s purple and swollen. He’s dead.”

So, when I say my mother and I
have two brothers,
it’s only partially true.

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