Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bright Little Blackbird

Eliza Blackburn
had black sparkling eyes
just like a little Blackbird.
She carried her 
clunky plastic purse
over her right arm,
as if she was just going off
to  market.
She always wore an apron
over her frock,
as she had all those busy years 
spent cooking and cleaning
for her family.
Her hair was still black, no silver,
worn long and tied back,
a source of pride 
among all the other white-haired residents,
but she was no longer "there" 
enough to know.

Every morning,
after breakfast,
she'd begin. 
She'd come in one door 
of the big kitchen and ask:
"Has anybody seen Jeannie Worthington?"
Jeannie was her daughter, 
who came every afternoon
at four o'clock.
"She'll be here later, Eliza,"
we'd say and, every time,
she'd reply, sweetly,
"Okay. Thank you".
Out the other door she'd go,
then back around, 
popping brightly in 
the first door, to inquire brightly:
"Has anybody seen Jeannie Worthington?"
"She'll be here later, Eliza. 
At four o'clock."

This went on all day.
In the afternoon, she would be
getting very tired
from all the walking,
all the asking,
all the waiting.

One afternoon,
I gently suggested 
she might like to sit down.
New thought.
She sat, then in a moment 
of rare clarity,
looked at me and
in her eyes I could see she was, 
if only briefly,
in that moment, there.
"So what'm I supposed to do with it?"
she asked, with great humour,
and we shared a chuckle,
woman to woman,
at the general absurdity of life.

"Has anybody seen Jeannie Worthington?"
and she was on her feet
and circling,

purse over her arm, 

once again.

posted for dVerse, where Karin's prompt is to use repetition in a poem. In this case, the subject, rather than the poet, employed the repetition.........this is a little lady who lived in the care facility I worked in in the '80's in Kelowna.


  1. touching write...that moment of clarity was a blessing for you...and for her...i wonder if for a moment she felt herself...hard stuff sherry

  2. Oh, how delightful, and how sad at the same time, Sherry.
    Luv, K

  3. I agree....def repetitious, but touching, sad, special in the connecting

  4. Life will go on as usual with beautiful memories..

  5. so sensitively written - my mom used to work in a home for elderly people and the lady reminded me of some i saw when i was allowed to come with the to work some days.. i like the blackbird image you give us in the beginning - works really well

  6. It is sad. As long as she was not in danger's way or got in onto other's way it was all right. And at home if she could do her personal hygiene herself it should be a great relief. Nicely Sherry!


  7. You have portrayed Eliza in both a sweet and sad manner. We can feel her anxiousness in your words. I am glad she was met with kindness rather than rebuke though.

  8. Such sad poem in one way, but still the expectation was what kept her eager and wanting... and the patience needed so she can continue to expect and hope...
    and so good her daughter came each day... and was loved and expected.

  9. Very moving poem. People do need some purpose, feeling of what they are doing, even if not exactly purposeful. So well conveyed, thanks. K.

  10. I like the way you have portrayed her Sherry, through the eyes of love and compassion ~ The touching moment came when the two women chuckled at the absurdity of life ~ Enjoyed this one ~

  11. What a realistic picture you have painted here. Definitely at this point in a person's life, repetitions are quite the routine for them and everyone else in their lives. Sadly they themselves do not realize it. Vivid writing to me today, Sherry. This one will stay with me.

  12. Sad, but on the other hand, at least she had a purpose. I guess we are all looking for something or someone, and maybe to others it might seem pointless, but we continue to look.

  13. Blackbird, indeed. With a song less appreciated over time, though she is still in there. Thank you for this poem.

  14. How sweetly you write about the absurd repetition involved in dementia. This reminds me of my mother-in-law who packs her bag (any bag she can find) and insists she's going home. Often the staff calls us to calm her down.
    Haven't been around Sherry. I did read some of the posts I missed but didn't comment. I missed the blogosphere but I was baby sitting my grandkids all last week. Whew!

  15. this touched me deeply, mi amiga. near the end of my mamasita's year (dealing with Alzheimer's and dimentia) she on occasion would have a moment of lucidity when she would look AT ME..."nene, gracias for coming to see me". heart warming and painful at the same time

    you characterized this piece in a very touching and empathetic manner which says much about your heart and soul

    Gracias, mi amiga

  16. Sherry, there is depth in this writing you have
    captured a part of life and in a moment clarity..I
    enjoyed the image of two chuckling..

  17. I sometimes wonder if people like Eliza don't see something very different in their own repetitios behaviors that you and I cannot, as if speaking to unseen forces. Wonderfully written, beautifully expressed ~peace, Jason

  18. Starting with the black bird image works to humanize her even more. Sad, lovely story.

  19. At least, through Jeannie, she found reason to wake up every single day---so sad to think of the repetitious anticipation & betrayal but then, there is hope to learn here. smiles.

  20. I could have written about the elderly lady that I see daily. She tells me the same stories over and over. She's still mostly 'there'...but is slipping away... Love your illustration of Eliza...poor Eliza. But maybe not "poor" at all...she doesn't seem to mind her "predicament".

  21. I think you've so effectively captured Karin's prompt here, with grace and tenderness ~


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