by Jane Attanucci


Eleanor H, Chasdi, Ph.D. 1927-2018

Arriving at the home to visit, I hear you.
I’m waiting for the bus to Brooklyn.
You want to see your family—

your father, proud member
of the Workmen’s Circle
in the new country, your mother,

worried housewife, with her late life
daughter, your little sister, at her side.
It’s not home, this place where you wait.


I feel like you know who I am.
When words won’t come,
your eyes soften, a certain smile.

Sometimes you introduce me to a nurse.
This is Jane. My friend, Jane.
And you, my friend and mentor still.

Mine’s the pleasure of announcing
your son David’s coming from Berlin.
I can repeat that message

five or six times in an hour.
You reply, Oh, I didn’t know that.                
Good, good, good.                                               

Around the dining table, a few stare silently.
One greets everybody with I love you,                    
another chants bitch, bitch, bitch.


Onto the red brick patio, I wheel you,
Ellie, cocooned in a blanket
against November’s chill, full-face

to the sun, swirling surround of gold
ornamental grasses and nearly pink
yellow leaves flying above. You reach

for dusty-purple hydrangeas nestled
beside the six-story building.
Once again, you ask where we are.




Jenny   erect in the wing-back chair

a walker parked in front of her


Ellie   in her wheelchair   elbows wide

fingers intertwined as if in prayer


daughters of immigrants    East Boston housewife

college professor from Brooklyn —


between them almost one hundred and eighty-four years

two first husbands  a second    and a third


three daughters  three sons    two houses

one dog and many good friends


Jenny talking on and on about the way things were

Ellie listening     her words often melting before she can speak


Jenny claims she never ever swore     but once

her husband made her so mad she yelled: BITCH!


I think that would be Bastard    Ellie’s face aglow

with delight in her succinct  conclusion.



Demeter to Her Eight-Year-Old Granddaughter

You’re not mine for long—

August sweeps the dunes and

your mother prepares to leave,

but, here beside the water,

I watch you

dig and pack wet sand,

tenderly place speckled stones

& blue-black mussel shells

on your proud afternoon castle.


Image: Hydrangenea by Edna Winti via Flickr