I wore a path between our houses
through the tobacco field 
where our parents were.

Parts of your family were gone
Your Dad was gone,
I never asked where,
In his place were brothers,
with guns and radios.
And a Sister
who died in the upstairs room
from leukemia,
though I never heard you say the word.
Your House was big,
bigger than ours,
 and cold.
The lights were cut off 
At night your brothers
pissed in a lard bucket 
in the kitchen.
If there was a bathroom
I didn’t see it.
Some of the rooms
were blocked off with old quilts

You had purses with cigarettes
and lipstick.
Sometimes you hung tobacco, too.
Your brothers were always walking 
to town, starting in the morning
and coming back at night.
When you fought with
your boyfriends
they worried the gravel road
for hours.
“Here Comes Jodie May, Out walking”
If Papaw caught you on the road
he would recruit you for church.

Sometimes you came to our house
asking for cold cuts or a pop.
Sometimes you bathed there. 
Sometimes Mom checked  
you for nits.
Sometimes you walked 
a mason jar of Kerosene home
to treat your heads.
Sometimes you came back more than once.
It wasn’t until years later,
After I was grown with kids
I realized that we weren’t blood kin,
 that Your Mom died
of an aneurysm
walking that path.