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The somewhat unexpected birth of my brother Dick


Everything was a lie
WD Snodgrass Poet
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My third sister was Shirley and she was much younger. She was very cute; she was a little blonde... Barbara had been a brunette and slim, she was... she was a plump little thing, Shirley was, and... I think she felt like a leftover, and there was really no place for her in the family much and I... I suspect my mother didn't want another girl but you know they just sort of went through the motions of... of raising another child and... until, after Barbara died, she was promoted to Barbara's position and... was furious, she just... she just raged. I... I don't remember her ever saying what she was raging about — of course you wouldn't dare — I mean the house... the house was, it was... everything was a lie, you had to tell your mother how wonderful her cooking was all the time — it was... it was a disgrace — we ate worse than people on welfare in the town. My...you know every couple... a couple of times a week my mother would go to the store and she'd bring back these enormous baskets — sacks — brown paper sacks of food for... 10 times the amount of food we needed and she would take it all to the kitchen and sort of dump it on the floor or on tables on... every... everywhere all around and just leave it there and after three or four days had passed she'd come back and now she would have  figure out how much had.. had rotted and... and she'd tear all that off and throw it away, this is... and... and then put that in the refrigerator and that's what we would get to eat. But we had to tell her always how delicious it was, how excellent it was and I... we didn't know any better, I mean, we didn't... we didn't, you know, you don't dare trust your own senses, you trust what you've been told and we were told she was a wonderful cook who loved to cook for us and loved to care for us and loved to do all these things which she didn't love to do and... you know. It's like when the waitress brings you a cup of soup with her thumb in it, you know that she doesn't like being a waitress, anyway... whoa, how did I get on to this corner?

American poet WD Snodgrass, entered the world of poetry with a bang winning several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his first collection of poetry, Heart's Needle. A backlash followed his controversial fifth anthology “The Fuehrer Bunker”, but in recent years these poems have been reassessed and their importance recognised.

Listeners: William B. Patrick

William B. Patrick is a writer and poet who lives in Troy, New York. Among his work are the poetry volumes "We Didn't Come Here for This" and "These Upraised Hands", the novel "Roxa: Voices of the Culver Family" and the plays "Rescue" and "Rachel's Dinner". His most recent work is the non-fiction book "Saving Troy", based on the year he spent following the Troy Fire Department.

Mr. Patrick has been Writer-in-Residence at the New York State Writers Institute and has taught at Old Dominion University, Onondaga Community College, and Salem State College, and workshops in Screenwriting and Playwriting at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. He has received grants from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Tags: sister, family, anger, lies, food

Duration: 2 minutes, 56 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008