A Family Tragedy

The rain is over... The morning dawns dry
but dreary. Nighttime moisture saturates the air.
The clouds are still riding low and heavy in the sky,
gray on top, grayer underneath, their tears of despair

appear ready to resume in response to the tiniest insult.
It is a fitting day for a funeral, made particularly fitting
since it is a girl aged three to be buried, her death the result
of carelessness by her older brother. Fitting that the crying

of the heavens lasted for days, just abating this morning
because the angels have run dry of tears. The brother,
then unhappy at babysitting, is now distraught at mourning.
Overcome with guilt and grief, he cannot look at the mother.

Supposed to watch, protect his sister, distracted he had failed
to prevent her from running into the street to her death. At first,
their hysterical mother had screamed curses at him, had assailed
his very worth. Later, she had shunned him, ignoring his thirst

for mother’s love and forgiveness. Now, deep inside, down
to the very marrow of his bones, he knows himself to be a son
truly unworthy of mother’s love. In the heavy air the sound
of a single gunshot reverberates. The mother finds her son
dead upon the floor of his sister’s bedroom. “What have I done?
What have I done?" she screams, then slowly picks up the gun.

Now dead, her precious daughter had been a child of rare beauty,
so filled with mischievousness and charm, favored over the son,
a gawky boy of twelve. Temporarily grief had blinded her to duty
to the son, but with time forgiveness would have come... it truly
would have come... to him from her, not like this, not from a gun.
“You should have waited, given me time to remember my duty.”

Harry Edward Gilleland      11.06.02