A heavy snow, they said
came suddenly that year in Kingsley,
When you were born in 1903.
Relatives said the doctor
had to take a sleigh to their home
to deliver you into the world.
The day you arrived was
barely in time to survive
your own young mother,
taken by Scarlet fever.
Terrible, to gain your own life
while your mother lost hers,
a burden you carried all your days.
Your father was honored in his sorrow,
but useless in his grief,
to care for an infant,
wandering the country for three years
seeking answers, or his own death,
which nearly took him more than once.
She was first of six Bowers girls
to go. Her family became
death-obsessed. Her picture
was placed above the piano,
to make sure all revered
her memory; altar-like, a shrine
to her saintly status…
by virtue of having died.
And you, by virtue of being her child,
became a half -saint as well, because
if you were sent to take her place
how could you be otherwise, and
what was there to do but treat you well,
while living in fear for your fragility?
Montage Images and Writing are the property of Ruth Zachary.