“Too young to have a baby!”
They told my mom.
“You’re barely thirty-five,” they said,
“And your house is too small,
Unlike ours, with so many big rooms.”
It made no sense to take me away
When my mom’s maiden aunts had so much to offer,
And so I began my life
As the queen of their domain.
There really were no rules,
Except about coloring outside the lines,
Which struck Quelita as sloppy.
But there were no other restrictions.
I was welcome to be seen and heard
And encouraged to sing, dance, draw and laugh.
I listened to stories meant for a child,
Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan
And I heard the stories they read to themselves,
Like Anna Karenina ( I’m still scared of trains).
I had neighbors and cousins
With whom to share my days,
And I knew the people
Who shaped their everyday lives.
The man from whom we bought flowers
The one who sharpened our knives
The Tuesday night people who played poker in the dining room
Adjacent to the bedroom where I would pretend to sleep.
I learned big cats were skittish
Pit bulls were protective
And baby chicks would morph quite quickly
Into angry roosters and egg-laying hens.
I learned they could die.
And I learned to believe in Jesus, who made all death immaterial
And loved little children like me.
Too old to be a baby,
I miss my aunts,
Who loved me unconditionally
And still live in my heart
Where they have big rooms
Into which I retreat
When I’m overcome by restrictions
Or about to forget I am loved.