A Series of Fortunate Encounters
The day was young,
the night was long,
that date of March 4th–
the date Sydney breezed into the Reedsy Bluesy Cafe
where Tammy O’Shanter told her that Adelaide
was the only one who had ever ordered chocolate milk (never coffee)
and a truffle brownie drenched in caramel syrup
every morning for breakfast
while she completed her morning crossword,
leaving behind more questions than answers.
Sydney waltzed into the Pence State College library
where Addie was always on the waiting list
for the newest installment of the Chocoholics Anonymous,
even as she was always late returning it,
leaving behind a Dove candy wrapper like a pressed flower,
which she had used for a bookmark.
Sydney ran into the man to whom Addie had been “practically engaged,”
into Addie’s best friend with whom she had shared the part of her life
her sister hadn’t seen,
and the mother they’d shared a space with–
a woman who had known Addie in a completely different way.
This all happened on her way to her Celebration of Life
(which they called funerals now),
with Addie as the guest of honor,
but the celebration had begun early
as Sydney retraced the steps Addie had taken every morning–
to gather the memories she would take out like holiday keepsakes–
memories she would take out when it only seemed
that she had run out of her own.
One More Memory
If I had just one more memory–
one more moment stretched into years
(with light years between the seconds)–
I would have so much to show-and-tell you.
Does that not sound like a little child?
in the absence
of space and time
as you observe Hannah’s progression,
listen to my stories,
and see this, your daughter,
in the collegiate green cap and gown,
having remade herself into the ungraven image
she’s always wanted to be.
We share memories of you at the table;
I like to imagine you hear us
every time we speak your name.
We have no complaints.
Dad still carries your driver’s license in his wallet;
there are never enough pictures.
We say, “That’s a Mom joke!”
(when the joke is truly terrible)
or “Remember when Mom ..?”
Dad still calls you Mom;
I call you Grandma.
“Say ‘Good-night, Grandma,’”
I tell my daughter,
“blow her a kiss to heaven.”
It’s a kiss strong enough
I catch the one you send back
and plant it on her cheek.
We call you what our children call you.
You wanted Dad to call you Betty more.
Your mother always called you Betty Ann.
You liked the names Carolyn and Elise.
You dug up the roots of the family tree
to give me mine.
She is…she was…
it is just “Grandpa’s house” now,
but the contact still reads “Mom and Dad’s”
in my phone.
I will never change it.
We remember your goulash–
the only thing you knew how to make–
even though we weren’t even Hungarian.
We just are.
The Bridge That Took Walks in the Park
The last time they met,
M. knew it would be the last,
but he did not.
Lollygags had been her constant companion—
not a seeing-eye dog,
but a GPS for lasting love.
And when M. died,
leaving her beloved friend behind,
he picked up her care where M. had left off.
As one dog year passed,
it came to pass that Lolly led him to his second love,
after which the last remnant of his first
having served her masters well.
For she had been the thing
that had kept The Others away,
but the being that had brought The One
The extra time she used to spend reading mystery novels,
she spent reading Mickey Mouse’s adventures.
The extra time used to spend watching “I Love Lucy,”
she spent making someone else laugh.
The extra time she used to spend working on her own story,
she recorded their story,
so that her child would never forget
that he’d been loved
before her time ran out.