August 5/365 Epistle to Millie

If only you had held on a couple more years to see your boy.
You would have swelled up, little woman, pride so loud
So Brooklyn. Not for nothing, your time with him, not for nothing.
There is something clear blue down to his bones. A good man.
I carried his cake to Boston in a Tupperware from your cupboard.
A gift from Bobby, from you, from years in a three-room apartment
Living over Those People. I gave him his birthday cake, and his eyes
(always cornflower, you were right) remembered you, I saw
The recollection there. Bubba, you were right there when we cut
Thick slices standing in the kitchen between his two friends. The cake –
Too rich for you, not simple and nice, like a crumb cake – weighed
A ton, you should have tried to lift it! Then he washed the plates
The forks the cups and set them to dry. I watched him squeeze
Soap out of the sponge and place it just so on the edge of the sink.
Not for nothing, your time with him. Not for nothing.


8 thoughts on “August 5/365 Epistle to Millie

    • This is a new poem, so I’m not sure it’s really done. Line breaks emphasize words here, and there are a couple of dubious ones – cupboard isn’t really important. Neither is apartment. But those seemed to bow to the importance of the beginning-of-lines words – “a gift from Bobby” and “Living over Those People.” Visually it’s very blocky, much like a letter should be, though it runs on more like a conversation with an old woman from Brooklyn.

      Millie was our neighbor, who had only one son, unmarried, and childless. She adopted our boys as her special grandbabies. She used to tell me that their wives would need to pass her approval – very old-school Italian! My mom is alive and well (and also named Millie!), but lives far away. Millie was their resident grandmother. When the boys were both away working at Conservation Camp, four years ago, on Duncan’s birthday, she died, unexpectedly. She was full of crazy superstitions, had no sense about living in the country, fed every animal she saw “people food” and told me harrowing tales of living in a huge house with several generations of her husband’s horrible family. She raised Bobby there until he grew up, until her husband retired, and then they built the house in the Poconos – three people in three rooms, which she kept just so. They left the horrible people in Brooklyn and pretty much never talked with them again.


      • Thanks, and I also like the “runs on more like a conversation with an old woman from Brooklyn.”

        Millie the neighbour sounds like a character in a novel… any chance she might end up as that?


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