Their first apartment or was it the second.
Montreal in 1949.
My mother looks at the photo.
It is 1995. The outside shot
My sister stopped playing
To look at the camera.
“That’s where we moved to,” my mother says.
“We didn’t have two sticks
of furniture to rub together.”
I look at her eyes looking at the photo.
“A table and two chairs. A bed and the crib.”
Her head shakes. She does not smile.
Holds the photo album on her lap.
Her wheelchair rolled up
to the good light.
The Can’t Story
It has come up many times.
A traditional story like the one
About me giving away my big sister’s tricycle
When I was three to a boy who asked for it.
My sister taking
the Red Cross swimming lessons.
Taking the tests for lifeguard.
Crying in the water,
Saying she can’t.
My mother, the Swedish Viking woman,
The lumberjack’s daughter,
Standing on the balcony spectator level
Leaning over the rail and using
The Norse battle voice
Pushing her will
Over the rail
Through the air
To my sister
In the water.
“I don’t want to hear can’t.