After Thoughts
The Poetry of J. Hodges

Sister Lil’

Let me tell ya ‘bout my sister Lil’
A darn good story, some would say
Happened over Ohio way
perhaps as good as ‘Jack and Jill’
Listen, while I tell you ‘bout a boy,
his sis, Friday night, and her drill
the skill, the thrill my sister Lil’ gave
and the thing that she made of me
forever, and for real!

1964, our daddy had a wagon
Seats in front, seats everywhere
seats facing backwards
so many seats and I was little
I rode in the middle where I felt best
brothers looking freakishly out the back
and Lil’, by herself, with her purse and her will,
lipstick and sweater, white make-up, painted brows,
and my daddy’s frown.

Lilly, sixteen, went by ‘Marlene’
with her up-do and flats
her frilly blouse and skinny pants
brought me down, down to the basement
to the rec-room where she’d have a clown
a Freddie, a Phil, or a Eugene
and set me outside the door
with a record player and a box
a box filled, filled with records.

You see, I was the youngest,
considerably younger, perhaps a mistake
fortunate to have siblings much older
able to spend and collect
They had no idea what they had
Boxes of my memories, given to me
before my memories ever existed
A lifetime of memories at four years old,
the beginning of my development and of my Achilles heel.

Back to Lil’, my sis
a pretty, sweet thing, stubborn
starved for attention and affection
would’ve won a beauty-contest if she ever smiled
growed-up on the wrong side of the tracks
fashionable, sometimes funny, loved to laugh
pursued at school, by the wheat and the chaff
confused but extraordinary, driven to succeed
in love, the thing she wanted most
in life, the most elusive and difficult thing
as I have found.

Yet, in the basement, there was Lil’
with her date, just behind the recreation room door,
I spun for them just beyond
Record after record after record
as she explored, then exploded,
and danced
the Freddie, the Mashed Potato,
the Shimmy, the Watusi,
and Hitch-hiked across the entire universe
of that room and its checkered floor.

I peeked as I did my own thing.
I danced and sang
to Smokey, Marvin Gaye
to the Temps and more
to the Beatles and the Stones
and even Tom Jones.

The melodies rang out from inside the room
They sent me somewhere, somewhere else
I was intoxicated
Only now, do I realize that it was my future
I rocketed to during those minutes and hours.

Now, still listening.
I must have done well
for I have lived each song
that I loved in ’64
when I was four
and my sister, Lil’, danced the Watusi.