“For Good” by Joan Stern

Joan Stern


We’re going to the country for good

I told my kindergarten teacher.
It was 1929. I wasn’t thinking forever–

for goodmeant the country was a good
place, life there would be good.
I couldn’t know my father would take

a bus, a train and a ferry to work
leaving in the dark, coming home
in the dark, chain-smoking his way

to a heart attack, or that my mother
in the darkness of another winter
would die of pneumonia. The day

we moved to the country
my mother played Fox and Geese
with my brother and me. We lay down

and made angel wings with our arms.
We danced in a circle to keep warm.
She played with us all day in the snow

and no one could have told me it wasn’t for good.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation

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