Old Wives’ Tale #poetry

Old Wives’ Tale

When you’re the youngest
you naively believe you can hold your family together
laugh, charm, dance, sing, laugh again
maybe they’ll stay together.

They don’t.

You have enough optimism in your soul
for a decade or two or three or five at the most
you laugh, charm, dance, sing, laugh again
mostly alone.

Your mother said sons tend to wives’ families.
You thought it was an old wives’ tale
until years passed and you rarely saw your brothers--
some brothers---
as they absorbed wives’ families, tale intact.

Though bitter, your mother wasn’t wrong.
Actions speak louder than words
slowly, ever so slowly, you learned.

Wisdom doesn’t charm
it does protect when the actions ache
and you see what you’ve pretended not to.

Pretended out of want, need, something cellular, hardcore,
pretended to ignore ignorance of someone who said:
“her head in the clouds” when hardships you knew well
when there was no money, plumbing didn’t plumb,
in a house cold, and you died, if embarrassment could kill you
time and time and time again.

And actions speak louder than words,
and I’m tired and not charming but disillusioned and aware
and realizing you can’t force anyone to care
much less yourself when you’ve tried and see
understand, acknowledge, comprehend: 
it was never, ever, you---
me. Never me.

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