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Her Legacy
by
Barbara Bloom


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for Aunt Cleone
 

After the divorce,
she sent me twenty dollars
tucked into the folds
of her crinkly blue stationary
written hard on both sides.
No use crying
over spilt milk, she said,
still, what a shame. There
never had been divorce
in the family.   By then,
I had a child
and could barely remember
her voice, but her certainties
were plain. No leaping
off cliffs for her. 
The whir of the sewing machine,
her shelves lined with canned goods
straight from the garden,
that was more her way. Her long letters,
full of other people’s news,
never mentioned
my father’s silence,
or her own lack of children.
From a quick how are you,
she’d go right to
the surgery of a neighbor
I would never meet,
or what a nice visit
she’d just enjoyed with Elsie.
Who was Elsie? I never exactly knew.
 
But, after all, weren’t we all part
of the great messy human family?
It swirled around her kitchen,
where she tied a fresh apron
around her waist,
and carried on.
She would hope for the best,
she concluded before signing her name.
Use the money
for something special.
Something just for you.

From On the Water Meridian (Hummingbird Press, 2007).
This poem first appeared on The Writers Almanac.
Used here with the author's permission.
 
Purchase a framed print of this poem.

 

 

Barbara Bloom has published one full-length book of poems, On the Water Meridian, and several of her poems have been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. When she was in high school, her family moved to a remote homestead on the coast of British Columbia, and she credits that for the deep connection she feels with the natural world. Recently retired from teaching, she devotes her time to writing and gardening at her home in the Santa Cruz mountains, where she lives with her singer-songwriter husband and a few spoiled pets.

 


New comments are closed for now.
dianapoet:
Wonderful poem!
Posted 11/27/2010 05:09 PM
Joe Sottile:
I meant to say, "some smoked" cigarettes. And I almost added that my mother and uncle used to send me $5 every birthday, even when I was in college--enough money for pizza and beer with my best girl at Arnies in Plattsburgh, NY.
Posted 11/26/2010 11:19 AM
Joe Sottile:
Wonderful poem, Barbara Bloom! Wonderful! It certainly brings back memories. All my aunts and uncles treated family like royalty, especially around the holidays. They could eat, laugh, talk, yell, and some cigarettes--unfortunately. Many of them left this earth early, but they left behind rich memories.
Posted 11/26/2010 11:13 AM
tannerlynne:
written hard on both sides! just like my aunt Carolyn... Thanks for this poem. L T
Posted 11/26/2010 08:16 AM
dotief@comcast.net:
What a lovely poem. My grandmother was my person who send me a five dollar bill for my birthday when I was in my 30s. She never wanted me to do without--and the cobblers she would bake us when she came to visit. Thanks for letting me go back and revisit her memory today!
Posted 11/26/2010 07:37 AM


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