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