once upon a time
she would’ve been the family’s
first college graduate —
long before me

as it happened,
to many back then,
she stayed behind to care
for a mother, father, husband,
then sons, and eventually
a daughter
who would then birth a
first college graduate —
that’s me

cancer would take her
before we made many memories
but images still develop
from time to time,
mental Polaroids of
front porch bean breakings
those old metal granny glasses
wiry hair and gold-toothed smile
her focused gentleness
and mountain abruptness
which kept a family
kept a home

an education in itself, that
when we pass sixty-three
we should be so lucky
to have earned
such a degree