PAD 2021 – Day 8

Today my poem took inspiration from the the League of Canadian Poets prompt to write a poem about what happens when you sleep, as well as today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt modeled on the 1915 book Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. It asked for a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood. The monologue doesn’t have to be a recounting of the person’s whole life, but could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy, with any degree of drama thrown in. I chose to write from the perspective of a cousin who contracted encephalitis from a mosquito, and died several years later, long before I was born.

Maryse Reiner

To call is it sleeping sickness implies a certain serenity
but I can tell you, from this side of my closed eyes,
it was never true. Before all that I was praised for my 
black curls and round blue eyes, like a doll they’d say,
never getting old enough to be noted for my keen 
math skills or the way I could run to the treehouse
faster than my brothers and climb the ladder like
a squirrel. I loved the colour yellow and the way
my mother’s carrot cake tasted ¬ best on my birthday.
I never had time for a real crush, or to really dream
about what I’d do when I finished school, but I do 
know it would have been more than house and babies.
I do know I would have danced, even through the 
reluctance and bone-ache of old age. I do know I 
would have gone to the lake every summer,
stayed up for every sunset, shut my eyes to memorize the
way the crimson and pink, the streaks of orange
reflected on the water. Held the shades and shapes like a favourite
painting, in my heart and behind my eyes, so I’d always have 
some place to go to in the dark.
Photo by Nicole Avagliano on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo – Day 24

Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt asked for an elegy, with a tinge of hope. My daughter’s provided the inspiration.

Elegy for a Ladybug

My daughters come in from the yard,
the younger one kneels by the door
her hands cupping something.
The older one digs in a drawer
for paper, scissors, tape and a marker
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Making something important,” she replies.
They whisper together, then the older one
begins cutting and writing.

“Come here Mom,” they say
and I walk to their crouched figures
expecting a shout of Boo! or a giggle
or to see they’ve been up to something
sneaky but innocent.
Instead, my older daughter says,
“We’re going to say nice things about
this dead ladybug we found outside.”

There, on the floor, a ladybug husk,
its bold red muted to a brownish orange.
She’s taped to a paper, with the words
R.I. P. Ladybug, ? — 2018
scrawled on top in blue.
A plastic case set on top,
keeping her, like Snow White.

“She was pretty, and bright,” my young daughter begins.
“She was good at flying and crawling, and though
we don’t know how long she lived, she probably
had a nice life,” my older daughter says. “Your turn, Mom.”

I find my own mouth empty, at first,
my thoughts too full of gratitude for my girls,
but I meet their sweet and sombre tone,
“We wish we could have known her while she lived.”

My older daughter nods, gently picks up
the paper and the plastic case, sets it
on a cabinet, between a painting she made
and an overgrown spider plant.
“A nice place to rest,” she says.
Nature is safe in these small hands.