Dear Terry

for Teresa Jane McGovern (1949-1994)

subject of the memoir Terry: My Daughter's Life-and-Death

Struggle with Alcoholism by Sen. George McGovern





When you went out for a walk,

you would make extra-sure

that you didn't step on any ants.


As a child you listed your

Three Favourite People:

God, Jesus, and Adlai Stevenson.


As a grade-schooler you got on famously

with your neighbour in Washington:

the senator from Minnesota

whom you called "Humfey."


You were vigorous, relentless even,

about cleaning your room.


When you were fifteen,

your boyfriend wounded himself with a gun,

out of despair, he claimed,

that you wouldn't have sex with him.

Shortly afterwards, you gave in to him

and you became pregnant.

In 1964, your father had to work a few connections

to get you a safe abortion.


You loved Marian and Colleen,

and were sorry when you couldn't be there for them

with full maternal attention.


You were smiling in that photo

at your forty-fifth birthday

as you sat next to your dad.


You tried,

you didn't stop trying,

until you couldn't try anymore.


One night, a few weeks before Christmas,

you wandered in a stupor
into a stranger's home: young single mom,
female roommate, two small children.

You stared dazedly, smiling the while
at the kids on the sofa. The adults
saw that you were no threat, were confused
or impaired, and treated you with kindness.

They asked you gentle questions. Your address.

If you were on medication.

You stood there, silent, helplessly smiling.

When the mom eventually

summoned police for help,

you fled
back into the streets of Madison,
into the mid-December cold,

into the night of Jamaica Jo's,

of Jolly Bob's and the Crystal Corner,

you walked past the dives that had cut you off,

onto an unlit patch of a quiet parking lot
where you collapsed in a slight glaze of snow
and never woke up.


It seems that nothing but death

could get you to stop telling yourself

the lie that you were not worthy of love.

Poetry by Uncle Meridian The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 113 times
Written on 2022-04-07 at 16:16

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jim The PoetBay support member heart!
This is unspeakably sad. Your words and her story make it hit home with a deep, penetrating smack to the chest.


Just Look Around
by Uncle Meridian