For Tatum – A Poem Never Finished

This is a prose poem in which I keep editing.. it’s a hard topic to touch on. We lost our niece a few years ago and I didn’t know how to respond. I was interested in how the younger nieces would react, and this was what I came up with… I feel like this poem will never be finished, but I had to do something for Tatum.

R.I.P. We love you Big Booty Judy.


Big Sissy Tatum is Sick

“Sissy’s sick!” Scarlet’s small figure galloped to us at the door as she pointed to a short casket. I had never seen one before. The air curdled around us as my lungs almost forgot to function. Nora followed, as usual, tripping over her own tiny feet. Her hands reached to me, and I scooped Nora up with a need for her customary smile. They were the youngest of the four – No, it’s three now -And they were only occupied with the idea that everyone was there to see them, as toddlers normally are. My boyfriend, Andrew, squeezed Scarlet to bits and nudged her off to continue running amongst strangers from family photos. Nora pointed to her mom, Amanda, a simple sign that we must go to her. Her eyes were heavy, beaten, and full of fog that masked her family-trait of cheer.  “Hey baby…” Amanda purred to Nora, her youngest, and put her arm around us both. Andrew folded his arms around his mourning sister’s drooping shoulders, I think with fear she’d implode. All he had to do to bring her smile back, if even for a moment, was make Nora laugh. “So will you be the mini Big Booty Judy? You eat like a little monster just like Tatum did!” Amanda breathed a smile, almost as if it was a relief. “We love all you buggers…” I nudged Amanda, and pointed to her oldest. “Even the teenage one.” Bailey was only 12. She had the courage to smile, even when near the dead beat, or what she calls her dad. He’s Tatum’s too. He looked almost lively, but smelled of a music festival, itched of craze, and had eyes almost entirely pupil. The only time Tatum mentioned him was when she couldn’t wait to see him on her birthday. He never showed up, until now. Andrew’s arm gripped Amanda with more stiffness at the sight, and he gravitated us to Tatum instead. We moved with feet of anchors. Scarlet noticed and skipped to us, securing herself to her mother’s leg. Amanda lifted her so she could see her big sister, who modeled a princess crown upon her head. It was fitting of her sassy, yet go-lucky, attitude we dearly missed. Scarlet copied her mother as she trailed her fingers down Tatum’s hair. “When will sissy get better?” Amanda’s eyes grew with a puddle that I may have only guessed could fill an ocean by then. Her response was matter of fact. “She’s our princess. We have to climb the tower for her first.”


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