Two Poems

In My Father’s House

For if you remain silent at a time such as this,…
you and your father’s family will perish.
                                                        (Esther 4:14)

The last time he hit
me I did not speak, not

say what was needed
to be said.
That’s when the house
stopped being vertical,

lost its flat ceiling and
floor, gathered into

a ball in my throat
and no one mattered. Not

him or her, not heart
or lung. Only fight hung

in the air, forming fists
against words.  And they

went to sleep, her and him,
not caring what they did

not hear, nothing of them
mother or father, nothing

of them left in me. In the
bathroom I listened to them

dream, watched my mouth
in the mirror.  Each thought
not a word but distance
wider with each pill,  each
swallow closer to silent.


My Mother’s Memory

It glosses certainty,
a sheen that huddles
in its own comfort-
able metaphor

where she measures
bills with great
accuracy of dollars, and pills
with steps it takes
to walk off pain.

Twenty-nine dollars to pay
the phone bill, four pills
at breakfast, seven at bedtime,
after thirty-one paces
her back eases into place.

I watch her and count
back into memory
to see how time allows
me what I remember.
But what I need
shapes what was.

I seek connection,
something in common, ask:
Do you remember?
The sewer bill is nine-fifty.
What about when?
I have only twelve pills left.

I stop, realize what I see
is not what she sees, we
don’t coexist in time,
and not even our memories
share the same moments.

—Olga Abella, Robinson, IL