THE KUHLMAN BROTHERS
by Barbara Claire Kasselmann
In April, I remember the Kuhlman Brothers
who lived next door on Hyde Park Avenue,
their big brown Gothic house
overgrown with vines and old trees,
windows always dark,
tattered shades drawn tight.
Every morning, George Kuhlman
walked down the street with his cane
to catch the Oakley streetcar to work.
Sometimes he said, “Hello,” to me.
The bald brother we rarely saw.
We named him “Oscar,”
and determined he was crazy.
Everyone said there was an even older brother
somewhere in the house.
One night we noticed a light upstairs
from beneath one of the old window shades.
In a while, an ambulance came.
We never knew for sure
which one of the Kuhlman Brothers
they took away that night.
Every April, the huge back yard
behind the Kuhlmans’ house
spread wild with violets.
Violets, violets, and more violets.
One year, I asked George:
Could my friend and I please
pick some of the violets?
“Yes,” he replied, his only word ever
other than Hello, to me.
So every spring, when the violets came
Carol and I spent our afternoons
gathering handfuls of violets
to take home to our mothers,
who filled all our vases
with little purple flowers.
In the Kuhlmans’ big back yard,
so many violets, you could not tell
we had ever picked a single one.
Copyright © 2016 by Barbara Claire Kasselmann.