I have my own memories of Philadelphia,
The historic landmarks, the cobbled streets,
The old toy shops and hotels.
Yes, the hotels that we stayed in
That were at least modern enough to have indoor plumbing,
Even if the water only came in the flavor cold,
And only existed in a room at the end of the hall.
But what I remember more
Was the building full of those children like my brother,
Who were wounded by being born,
Sick by no reason under God
Except for the one my Mom discovered:
My brother was a trial from the Heavens
To test her faith.
But that's not Philadelphia.
Philadelphia was the Institute
Full of workers who really cared
About these children born wounded, and
Who gave us toboggans with their initials. IAHP.
Philadelphia was the theater where I first saw Star Wars.
Philadelphia was the little girl in the floor
Who was blind and unable to control her body
Who would only quit crying when my Mom
Sang to her. My mother, the cursed by God,
Sang to this girl,
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,"
And she was quiet
Because she wanted to hear this song that was hers.
That's one of the best things my mother's ever done.
Philadelphia was a place of boredom for a kid my age
Who had nobody around to be with
That was my age and ability.
But Philadelphia was necessary for my brother,
And it was magic for me,
Just a lonely sort of magic sometimes,
Spending a lot of time in a large room
Full of the fallen angels that couldn't do for themselves
Any of the things that they should.
Philadelphia was a place of fear and loneliness
And wonder and beauty and softness and noise.
Philadelphia was one of the gems
That made up my life.
© 1996 Bill Abbott