Somehow it wasn’t right to cry for someone who no one knew—for years though everyone knew about Lil She was the crazy burden of an orphaned family whose memories rearrange the winter shadows
“Are we dressed right? Are our faces adequately sad?”
They loved the skinny, happy kid Loved—the ones who loved her knew her from “The Old Neighborhood”
Two sisters approach the body echoed in black and navy holding each other’s hand They look down at her— They look her over They overlook—“The Old Neighborhood” of the Lillian they had hoped for— took care of as a child....
And in the din of last respects a comment from an older gentleman—
“The Goldrick girls were all such lookers”
So I was her niece and not from “The Old Neighborhood” I have memories of my own....
I was rich when Lil brought play money from Misquamicut She brought whelks and slipper shells too My ear cupped close I first heard the sea
Not as beautiful as I expected nor as beautiful as I would know She gave them with love—without telling where and when that I would go....
Her hands were always cool and sweaty Always trembling Always a cigarette and an argument in the background
From the height of three and hugging knees I see her face against the ceiling’s white—with panic
Her eyes are never with me I know someone is with her
“The Goldrick girls were all such lookers....”
Beleaguered beauty Frail, with stiff grace she glances sideways Checking for my safety?
“Our names too close! Confused too often!”
I was to know her horror— as I know her sea
...Her laughter, too late for the conversation a smoky hysteria that will not share with her eyes She stumbles backward through her childhood as if she has mislaid something
She wants to go roller skating with her sister, eight months pregnant besieged by diapers with stew on the back burner
...And Lil wants to go back... to a time at the Rialto to the *****’s boogie