By: Teresa Blackmon | Posted on: Summer 2019
We can’t imagine them anything but uncles,
men who rode us on their knees
and called us “Baby” beyond our forties.
We’ve heard the tales, of plowing with mules
and sneaking cigarettes in the corn crib,
of Mama and Papa and Sunday dinners, of hog killings,
of sneaking pies from the pie safe, or sop chocolate for
breakfast and apple jacks for dessert.
We know they wore starched white shirts to school,
to Dogeye, the old one-room schoolhouse,
and we know that Papa traded mules
in the old stables downtown.
We’ve seen the newspaper photos of four sons
in a world war at the same time. We know they
served proudly and returned to talk about
Fort Bragg and the medics and the time one brother
ran into the other in a field hospital.
We grow older and see ourselves turning into
them like leaves change in their time to
what they have to be in Autumn.
Each of us has one of their quirks, shaking popcorn
and peanuts in our hands, then aiming for the mouth,
nephews’ hands in pocket, rocking from heel
to toe, and whistling tunes made up through
tobacco middles and cotton rows.
We just can’t imagine that they were little
tots comforted in a mother’s arms, that they
had mumps and measles and broken teenaged hearts,
that they ever lay in bed afraid of the dark or feared
the boogey man who might have hid in the old outhouse—
these brothers who leave us now,
one by one,
like mischievous boys who run to play
and refuse to come when called.
Teresa Blackmon is a retired English teacher and librarian. She received her MA in English from North Carolina State University and her MLS from North Carolina Central University. She is a lifetime writer whose bucket list is empty but for publishing a chapbook.