1986: the stereo stand

it was 1986

and my brother had made a stereo stand

it was crap, frankly, a cry of despair

if you knew how to read such things, but i didn’t.

we just liked having a stereo stand

because of course, my sister had a stereo

she also had me, and her old pal

as room mates in the westend townhouse.

nubby brown sofa, brown nubby carpet.

i guess we had a vaccuum cleaner, but

when i couldn’t study, couldn’t write, i’d sit

and clean the carpet by hand, listening

to avalon on the stereo. bryan ferry’s fey croon

and those back up singers everybody loved then

dollette, janice, fonzi, their silk flag voices high flown

as i moved in meditation, slowly by hand smoothing

carpet, making order of chaos.

we never used the fireplace. we’d grown up

with wood heat, and loved it, but we didn’t know

how to chop wood in a city, and the idea

of buying a bundle at a gas station seemed

like rankest surrealism.

my brother would visit, from time to time

he was adrift, crippled in his back, angry

it was a careless moment, at his first real job

the man who supervised him caught a snag

the tree flew over, smashed my brother’s head

lifted him like a hideous flag, 18 feet they said he flew

when he landed, he would never be the same.

nobody knew then, about post-concussion syndromes

if i tried to analyze it, i had to shy away from diagnosing

he was turning into an asshole, obsessed with his pain.

but what was there to analyze? he’d been smashed in the head

by a tree that threw him eighteen feet and whiplashed

his lower spine, discs dislocated and rupturing. wcb declared

it must be a pre-existing condition. nobody knew about

post-concussive syndromes. but they knew about whiplash

and still, they knew more about how to stymie a young man

whose father had just died, who had been bullied out of school

gone to work, been doing his job when his supervisor

screwed up. wcb dragged him through processes

determined to determine

he had no lasting damage, despite that

from time to time, his legs would buckle, spasm wracked

despite his growing rage, and the lack of counselling

on how to deal with the constant pain, and those

spasms. he took to the bottle.

whiskey is not a good analgesic, nor good

for visions. nor good for inspiration about

what the hell to do, now that he faced a life

of limited mobility and the system meant to

protect him was doing its level best, from all

he could see, not to have his back.

he made the stereo stand in their shop, a training

project. a little something for his sister, a way

to be a man, now dad was dead.

he wasn’t proud of it, though we tried to be

as if that might help.

he died in 86.

and i carried on, walking like a concussion patient

one foot at a time; and some days,

turned on avalon, knelt myself down

and cleaned the carpet, inch by inch, by hand

like some kind of honouring ceremony.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. robert okaji says:

    This! Anna Marie, you break my heart so often…

    Like

  2. prairiepomes says:

    trying to find useful, beautiful ways to honour the truth of the journey.

    Like

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