Life with Mother and Father, Patricia and Kelly
by Trish Saunders

Here are Sara and James, a young couple,
ordinary, like their names,
bickering quietly in the
maternity ward of
Bethesda Naval Hospital;
with her blonde pageboy, his crew cut,
this must be the late 1950s, and
Sara and James are having more babies
like everyone else in America,
doing their bit to move on, and
forget the carnage of the 1940s,
the good war.

Twin girls! Think of that!
A small family is large suddenly,
they will need a station wagon,
a larger house in the country,
and two more names.

Susan sounds snobbish.
Rebecca is like someone sobbing,
I want our girls to be happy,
says James.
Madeline sounds like an old lady, Sara
retorts, and the father’s eyes fill,
imagining baby girls
as middle-aged, even old.
Wordlessly, they hand over the babies
to a white-capped nurse who smiles,
Have you decided yet?

More than fifty years later, Sara and James
have disappeared into a photo album
filled with Polaroids
and black-and-white
serrated pictures,
which Patricia and Kelly
are looking through now,
searching for childhood images,
recalling a stereo hi-fi playing
“Sentimental Journey,”
the tune Sara and James both loved.

They sit quietly, remembering, listening.

PHOTOGRAPH: Trish Saunders, around age 6.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I never understood how my parents, who wanted happy-sounding names, could choose Patricia for me; it sounds so serious. My sister was luckier; her name sounds to me like a woman singing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia Saunders, who shortens to Trish, divides her time between Seattle and Honolulu. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Snapping Twig, Gnarled Oak, Busted Dharma, Blast Furnace Press, Off the Coast, Poets and Poetry, and Here/There Poetry.