I have an aunt out in Cali,
we used to visit every year,
she had a yoga studio,
and my grandmother used to cheer
how she was a ‘modern woman, '
could do everything by herself,
and didn't need to ‘find a man'
to establish a path to wealth.
My mother, on the other hand,
married one year out of high school,
had a big family, five children,
with a lawyer who was no fool.
I think grandma and my dear aunt
sometimes thought less of her for that,
not that I ever picked this up,
oblivious as a young lad.
It was only when I was a teen,
a year after my grandma had died,
when out west visiting my aunt
I saw a strained look in her eyes.
There seemed to be a great sadness
when she looked at her sister's brood,
but then she'd paste on a smile,
pretend to be in a good mood.
Even heard her crying one night,
when I walked past her bedroom door,
I can't recall, but I think then
she'd recently turned forty-four.
It was a few years later when
I heard whispers of what she'd done,
got pregnant twice in her twenties,
murdering both through abortion.
She'd always been the type who'd say
that, "Women have a right to ‘choose, '"
but had never though deeply on
all that it had meant she would lose.
The depression kept on growing
as she broached her early fifties,
we all knew she was drinking more,
my mother was truly worried.
One Thanksgiving I confronted her,
she just sighed, and then I was told,
"It's nothing, folks just have regrets
when they realize they're getting old."
I ventured that she might regret
not having children of her own,
but said that she had played a part
in her nephews as they had grown.
I thought it would be some comfort,
but man, did I get that one wrong.
She said, "Oh, so woman must have kids,
so often I've heard that old song! "
She ranted and raved after that,
her old, tired feminist shtick,
it confused me, she knew the problem,
but would not alleviate it.
Of course, I was a young man then,
I did not recognize her fate,
couldn't see that admitting fault
meant she'd lived her life for a mistake.
Could not see she would rather lie
to herself than admit the truth:
The ideas she had bought into
had wasted her valuable youth.
And now, when it was much too late,
she was too weak to admit the flaw,
to see that ideology
was nothing next to nature's law.
Worst still, she just doubled on down,
became a loud, activist type,
wants the young to follow her path,
make the same mistake in their life.
Not seeing the pain it will bring,
more misery, that's a safe bet.
She felt beyond the traditions,
and now frantically hides from regret.
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem