Looking Through Photo Albums with Mom, December 1997

I was born and everyone my mother loved died.

“When you were a baby, one day your granddaddy gave you a stuffed bear. You started sucking on the bear’s nose. Your granddaddy laughed and laughed. I’d never seen him so tickled. He nearly dropped you when he had that heart attack.”

She points to a glossy, square photograph. I am in his arms. I’m wearing a red pajama set. He is wearing a blue button-down shirt and he has wild, wavy gray hair. We have the same eyes.

“We knew something was wrong with my momma when she started calling my friends and threatening them. It just won’t like her at all. Brain tumors do bad things. It was just too late.”

She points to a photo of a woman wearing glasses. She is looking toward the camera with a shocked expression. She is wearing a fuzzy blue bathrobe. We have the same hair color.

“One day your daddy broke the rear view mirror in the car because he was swinging it toward you to make you laugh. I came out the store and he was holding the mirror in his hand. If he could have stopped drinking, he’d still be with us today”

She points to a photo of a man holding me. He is leaning against a brick wall. He is wearing dark sunglasses. We have the same nose and mouth.

I was born and everyone my mother loved died.


Jessica Wiseman Lawrence grew up on a working farm in rural central Virginia, then studied creative writing at Longwood University. You can find her recent work upcoming or published in Stoneboat, Origins, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and The Feminine Divine’s upcoming Anthology of Female Voices, along with many others. One of her poems has recently earned a Best of the Net nomination. She continues to live in rural central Virginia with her family, and she works as an office manager by day.

This poem originally appeared on Revolution John and has been pulled and reprinted here by the author’s request.

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