Odd Woman Out
"She's an artist."
That's what they told me when I saw her at the wake,
slender, striking, wearing a black leather jacket,
a jaunty beret and looking nothing like the familiar
dowdy aunts and cousins.
and thought she was pretty, but old.
I was a little girl – maybe five,
and you know how that is – anyone past thirtyish seems ancient.
I'll bet she was not as old as I am now.
although at five I wouldn't have known that word.
I knew I'd never seen her before,
not at Christmastime or picnics
or any other family to-do;
I wouldn't forget a face like that.
Your father's cousin, they said, the artist –
and that was the end of that.
sorry I never saw her again, sorry I never got to know her,
sorry she was dismissed as a sport, a mutation,
a footnote on the family tree.
whom the children don't know, wearing a beret of my own
and a sheepskin jacket – another minor footnote,