Friday, February 5, 2010

The Accidental Child 1944

The Accidental Child 1944

It wasn’t known how the fire began,
probably sparked by burning leaves,
flying in the breeze. It was discovered
behind the garage, burning in the long
dry grass of late October 1943.

Having already laundered much
of the day, Mama then spent
several hours fighting the fire with
wet towels and buckets of water,
and pumped by Granddad, afraid
the rented garage might burn down.

She put the fire out, but she did not
finish the laundry. She was doubled
over in pain. That was how their second
pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Ava
was heart-broken by that loss.

Daddy told relatives
they had decided not to have more
children; that they would be too old,
at forty and forty-two, but not long after,
Mama was expecting again.

Daddy was terribly embarrassed over
the timing, so soon after the miscarriage,
and told everyone it was an accident,
something Mama did not confirm or deny.

When I got older, I remembered
the looks exchanged between them
when Daddy said it, and later how
Mama explained she was in charge
of birth control, and by default the lack of it.

Mama was delighted from the start
to have another chance at a second child.
I think the story about the accident
was my father’s invention; allowed
to stand by my mother’s omission.

But my sister grew up believing she
was an accident, while I was on purpose.

Written July 27, 2009

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