February 6, 2009

For all the middle children

                       UNCLE JIM 

What the children remember about Uncle Jim
is that on that train to Reno to get divorced
so he could marry again
he met another woman and woke up in California
It took him seven years to untangle that dream
but a man who could sing like Uncle Jim
was bound to get in scrapes now and then:
he expected it and we expected it.

Mother said, It's because he was the middle child,
and Father said, Yeah, where there's trouble
Jim's in the middle.

When he lost his voice he lost all of it
to the surgeon's knife and refused the voice box
they wanted to insert.  In fact he refused
almost everything.  Look, they said,
it's up to you.  How many years
do you want to live? and Uncle Jim
held up one finger.
The middle one.

By Peter Meinke


Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Love this poem. Read it three times. There's something to be said for living life on your own terms or not at all.

So Lovely said...

Lisa: Isn't it great. I can even picture Uncle Jim. Completely bald, not well but still wearing his woolen cap with a brim and having a good laugh.

La Belette Rouge said...

Sad and funny. I do hate to think of someone actively choosing not to have a voice. But, a year of living life from the middle finger could be quite a year.