My neighbor told me this when
at the mailbox we happened to meet.
He had to hurry, shortly needing to begin
his drive out to the airport in order to greet
a bunch of out-of-town relatives that he hardly knew
coming for his nephew’s wedding being held the next day.
“Yeah, he’s marrying a very nice girl he met down at LSU.
Actually, she grew up here in Shreveport, surprising to say.”
Hearing her name, he saw the sadness appearing on my face.
“I knew her fifteen years ago. Her family was our backyard
neighbors at our previous place. Theirs a truly tragic case!
That young lady’s life has been overwhelmingly hard.
First time I ever saw her, she was walking with her twin sister -
she a robust, lively 7-year-old…pushing her sister’s wheelchair.
I guess I stared because she said “What ya looking at, Mister!”
Her sister was pale, skin and bones, with her head having no hair.
Childhood cancer had stricken her twin, eventually to destroy their
family. Her father took her twin and stayed at St. Jude’s for months
at a time, delaying the inevitable in the face of mounting despair.
Our bride never had a childhood, not even a birthday party once.
She was her twin’s constant companion, less her sister, more her nurse.
For three more years all activities centered around her sister’s dying.
Her face peering out from the family car following her sister’s hearse
has stayed with me all these years - no forgetting her hysterical crying.
Everyone had hoped things would get better in their family’s world,
but her father was consumed with anger and carnivorous grief.
He rejected this daughter…due to her likeness to his dead little girl.
Things got worse until a shotgun provided her father his final relief.
This girl and her mother then lost their house to impossible debt.
Cancer claimed her sister, father, childhood, and her very home.
They moved away. My life went on. It was with deep regret
that later I heard for years from town to town they did roam.
Please tell her tomorrow her old neighbor adds his to all the rest
of ‘Best Wishes’ that her future brings nothing but pure happiness.”
This poem is my fourth in a series of ‘Neighbor at the Mailbox’ poems.
The others have been “On Those Homeless People”, “On Reasons For Committing Adultery”,
and “Wanting A Second Chance”. If interested, these are also posted at this site.