I. The Aunt

Amid bloodied linens and basins of tepid water
in my sister’s drafty farmhouse, I held this pitiful creature
in my hands. Look at her, she’s not going to make it.
She’s the size of a shoebox.

With low expectations, I put her in an open dresser drawer
and rested beside her, my hand on her fragile chest, listening
through the night for the sound of her breathing.

II. Louise

I’ll tell you something, honey. When I was young, one of six
fisherman’s children in red dirt country, my mother would tell me,
“You’ll never amount to nothin.”

And so all my life, I felt I had to prove her wrong.
I had to be the best at everything. It made me who I am.
But I never forgot those words. Never forgot.

Claire Juno, © 2015

…for my grandmother, whose first and middle names meant war and warrior.