Free Verse



Elizabeth Howard, US




Eula Mae, this is Lavinia. It’ll soon be time
for my therapy, but I had to call. I just read
about Jason’s trouble. I’m so sorry. I think
things went bad after you broke your hip
and he stayed with the Snowdens. He wasn’t
the same after that. Well, I’ve got to go.
They’ve come to drag me away to therapy.
If there’s anything you need, just let me know.

Does Lavinia think I don’t know about broken
hips and therapy? After all I’ve been through.
This wheelchair a part of me, pain who I am.
Helpless as a rag doll, I sit waiting for someone
to come build a fire, help me with all the things
I cannot do
breakfast, a bath, cobwebs.

Lavinia has her problems, but she does not know
the sea depths of sorrow. She has not read of her
grandson’s shame in the Oak Grove Gazette, out
there in public view where the whole world,
friend and foe alike, can read it. Can cringe
or tingle, whichever the case may be, at words:
supper club, drugs, prostitution, pornography.
But it is a shame for a good person like Lavinia
to wind up in such a plight. She taught second
grade forty years, taught my children and grandchildren.
After she retired, she learned to paint, showered
friends with pictures
houses, barns, artifacts
from the past. I love the watercolor of grandmother’s
farmhouse. When I look at it, I can see me, a runty
little girl, on the balcony with my odds and ends,
pretending to keep house. Lavinia ought to be at home,
sitting in the rocking chair on her porch where she
can smell purple phlox, watch cardinals, swallowtails,
and ruby-throats. Instead, she’s in a nursing home
with a broken hip. Pain has turned her bitter.
She complains of therapy, food, nurses, the laundry,
the color of the wallpaper, the t.v. programs.
She calls often. I’ve come to dread it.
Her whining reminds me of my own complaints.
I could howl like an old sick dog. She says
let her know if I need anything. Now what
does she think she can do, her in the Mountain
View Health Care Center with a broken hip?









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