At Our Best When We Prevent Things: Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc

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At Our Best When We Prevent Things: Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc[1]

When they told me they found you unconscious
on the kitchen floor, I dropped to my knees. Alone
raising five kids, you were the strongest person I
knew, so my body knew that something was wrong.

They said you were talking on the yellow wall phone
to your police officer “friend” that we didn’t know you
had because you were all-the-way grown. He said you
choked on the phone during y’all’s conversation, and
he called your name several times, and you didn’t answer.

He radioed the police, and the paramedics couldn’t enter
through the front door, so they broke through the barricade
on the back door and that made perfect sense to us living on
the south side of Chicago. It was safer to be locked in than out.

Too long your brain had gone without oxygen after they revived
you, and Sister said that for a while you were breathing on your
own. I sit and try to hold my breath at your Roseland ICU bed
and wonder through oscillating beeping and compression noises
how much time that actually is. No matter how many laps my
dark hands circled along your lighter legs from your knees, calves
and to your feet, your skin was warm and soothing to my touch
like there wasn’t a machine breathing for you.

As a fifth-generation good Catholic girl in recovery, there are
things that you remember, and “thou shalt have no other God
but me” is one of them. Maybe Moses didn’t know how much
I was willing to barter if you would have just woken up.

Brown and black nurses commented on “how she must have
been a really good person” because “her children were so kind,
polite and well-spoken.” They never suspected that I was waiting
and plotting at your bedside preparing to sell my soul for you
to just get up, and because you are my Momma and you loved me,

you never did.

  • Taiyon J. Coleman

    Taiyon J. Coleman is a poet, essayist, and educator. She is Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous collections and magazines.

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