Mrs. McPherson’s Antidote to Despair

my husband is dead and it’s lonely now
     though still i enjoy the bright
sun in my morning kitchen where i
     sit and drink coffee and remember.
the kids are gone off with their own
     lives and don’t need me anymore
though once i thought i could still teach them
     a thing or two.
but now i’m only unfashionable, even embarrassing.
     people are so young now.
they are all so busy with things
     i don’t understand, the world
confusing and forgetting things that were important.
     my friends have all died or moved away.

 i wonder sometimes who would notice
if i were to vanish, how long
 it would take anyone to tell
the difference. we all sleep and eat
 and listen and watch and remember and
dream but only some of us make
 a difference to others. i don’t
think i make a difference. who will
 remember me when i’m gone? how long
will any of us be remembered? comfort
 can seem so fragile. i’m not so sure
of the things i believed when i was younger.
 when i die and have been gone ten
thousand years –! how could anything i’ve
 done made any difference?… ultimately
it is all pointless.

ah, but it can’t end now. or i’ll never find out
if mrs. hielmann’s daughter downstairs marries
that nice young man
                            of if the petunias i potted
come up next spring
                           or how my programs ever come out.

— 13 October 1980



I didn’t write anguished poetry as a teenager, like most people do; I wrote anguished poetry in my 20s. I was a late-bloomer. I’ve been inventorying my file cabinets, the past couple days. I have piles of this stuff. After nearly 40 years, this one strikes me as not half bad. It makes a point. I’d been reading e.e. cummings.

I’m tickled by the line, “people are so young now”.

Also, WordPress doesn’t like blank spaces, or many returns; I had to manually insert nbsp and break characters, for this spacing.

This entry was posted in Personal history, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.