Poor Relations: A Free Form Poem

September 23, 2012 at 8:15 am (Life) (, , , , , , , , , )

We weren’t the poorest ones.

My dad’s sister’s family had that distinction.

They were the ones who got our meager hand-me-downs.

They were the ones who stopped in too close to supper to turn away.

Even as a child one notices the hierarchy.

Uncle’s boys were the favoured ones. They would inherit the farm. They would be the ones taken on trips.

But we were not at the bottom of the ladder.

Why does it always seem to come down to rich vs poor?

Why do we need to distinguish between upper and lower class?

My sisters wore their classmate’s hand-me-downs and were called out.

I have the need to tell you, that off all my relatives, we were not at the bottom of the ladder.

There was someone poorer than me; relatives who had less than we did.

They lived on a farm; a farm that produced little to nothing most years.

They had space to run outside.

There were two parents and five children sharing a four room house that probably had less space than I have now.

In spite of it all, everyone (me included) seemed happy and healthy and free.

But we noticed…

We noticed who the favoured ones were.

We noticed who got more.

Why do I always want more?

Not every thing was a hand-me-down.

My mother’s father made my baby doll a cradle.

My baby doll who was mine alone and never got handed down.

She sleeps in the same room I am typing in now!

My barbies were hand-me-down from my older sisters.

I played with them with the little girl down the street who had a wringer washer in her front yard.

Who was white trash?

Her barbies had a pool and my Casey doll had a buzz cut.

I kept the dolls until I was in my twenties and then gave them to the Salvation Army thrift store.

(From there they would go to some little girl, not my nieces who had too much already, to enjoy).

Did being poor make me passive aggressive or would I have turned out that way regardless?

This is what poor is.

Not knowing where your stuff ended up.

My favourite white lace dress, where did it go when I could no longer wear it?

Does it matter?

I remember it made me happy and I have no children to pass it on to and no attic to store it in.

Rich people keep mementos in attics.

Poor people keep mementos in their minds and close to their hearts.

I remember…

I remember a white teddy bear. She got washed and came out pink. She disappeared.

I wish I could disappear these memories.

I don’t want to be petty.

I don’t want to constantly distinguish between me and them.

But, then my uncle (the favoured 0ne) has to point out (at my mother’s recent wedding) that I am using a safety pin (not a fancy pin) to hold my vest closed.

Like I was unaware of it.

We weren’t the poorest ones.

Even as a child one notices the hierarchy.

Why do I need to distinguish between me and them?


1 Comment

  1. howanxious said,

    I really don’t understand our wants, our need to have more and more.. How can we distinguish human beings as rich and poor? Because they are, after all, all rich with the love that resides in their hearts… But we do because we are material and can not see anything beyond money..

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