Marcus and Mark
By Kelley Jean White
Born at twenty-three weeks gestation. Mark
was two pounds, Marcus was one pound fourteen.
I wouldn’t have thought they’d have a future
in 1990 or been a party
to their resuscitation. Now they’re six-
teen, and they need their driver’s physicals!
Both good students, athletes, leaders; they’re
applying to Ivy League schools. And their
chances are excellent. They got high marks
on the SATs, number five and six
in their classes. No, not your average teens.
Good dancers, but they don’t like to party.
They say their friends don’t plan for the future
and we worry there won’t be a future
for a lot of them. It’s ugly out there.
Full of drugs and sex, a constant party
life of quick cash and a quicker fix. Marked
for jail or worse. Two uncles dead, and six
cousins shot this year, all still in their teens.
Yeah, crazy out there. Our mom was fourteen
when she got pregnant with us. Her future
wrecked, but somehow, well, we came home at six
months and she got it together, she’s there
like a rock for us. Fierce love. Not a mark
on us, never hit us, oh sure, parties
when we were little, she’d still go party,
park us in a corner, she was fifteen,
quit school, had to work, couldn’t keep her marks
up. Now? Community. In the future
she just might follow us to college. There’ll
be less stress on her when we leave home. Six
teen years she’s given up. It took her six
years to get her GED. That party?
Well that was special. Our grandmom was there
and her sisters, and our dad, been fifteen
years since she’d seen him, he’s in our future
again, not a bad guy, law’s got a mark
or two against him. Their future? Who knows.
We’re named after him. Two Mark Juniors. Six-
teen years. We never knew. Wedding party?
Copyright © 2020 by Kelley Jean White.