Here is something that I know to be true. When my infa..." /> Here's What I Know - Mutha Magazine

Poetry

Published on November 1st, 2022 | by Megan Kennedy

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Here’s What I Know

Here is something that I know to be true.
When my infant sister was sleeping in her crib
her dad made it clear to our mom that she couldn’t leave. 

I know what their bedroom looked like 
in the house we lived in when the sister was an infant in the crib. 

I imagine them in their bed. 
Him pulling out a gun 
from underneath his pillow,
holding it, but not pointing it at her.  

I know that the garage walls were lined  
with warehouse racks of Hostess desserts. 

In a bodega 
I see individually wrapped cherry fruit pies
and I think of the garage. 
I imagine her pushed up against a stack of Twinkies. 

I remember him holding her
against the kitchen wall by her throat.
I don’t know if that’s real or imagined, but I remember it. 
And I know that it could be real. 

I know that I felt safer in his van
than in an ambulance 
when I broke my arm.  
A roller coaster track between my elbow and my wrist. 

I remember him 
jumping off the couch.
Noticing that he cared. 
								
I remember we followed my mom out of the house
in the middle of the night. 
Her best friend waiting for us in a car. 

When I was pregnant with my daughter, 
my older brother – she, his namesake – attests. 
He says, it was the neighbor though, 
who drove us to the airport. 

I remember standing at the top of a staircase, 
feeling frightened by the look of her leg
wrapped up in that burn gauze. 

I overheard that an urn 
of freshly made coffee 
had tipped over and scalded her. 
I remember wondering,
is that really what happened, or did he do this to her? 

I remember my toddler brother
putting his tiny hand 
through the diamond shaped hole of the baby gate. 
I remember the burn blisters on his tender baby skin. 

I remember many times, 
meeting him in the Mini Chopper parking lot
to exchange the sister and the brother 
for visitations. 

I remember night after night after night of vigilant insomnia. 

I remember trying to find words to describe 
the pain of being woken up by wasps stinging my stomach. 

I know that, all the time, 
I was learning that 
nothing is good enough 
to not be thrown away. 

The first pandemic spring: 
a jolting return to trapped and unsafe. 
I binged on all foods frozen and boxed. 
I burrowed inward, clawing for personal space. 
I all but went silent with my husband and my daughter. 

But I could sleep. 
And I could wake up 
and recognize us for who we are, 
and who we’re not. 

I know that in our kitchen
I’ve done fifteen days of yoga in a row.
I don’t know if I’ll have the patience 
to break in these oven mitts, but I will try, 
because they’re good enough to not be thrown away. 

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About the Author

Megan Kennedy writes lyric essays about her evolution as a daughter and mother. She is an elementary school counselor and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and nine-year-old daughter.



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