The highlight of the day came at 2:30
when she’d read the next chapter
of Winnie the Pooh or Charlotte’s Web.
She was petite, Miss Schmidt…not much
taller than we were at nine…her last class
before she retired and moved back to Hilo.
She showed slides of Hawaii…said they were
once called the Sandwich Islands…peanut butter
and jelly, grilled cheese…cool jokes for the playground.
We tasted poi and guava, practiced the hula
in grass skirts and coconut bras, rolled obsidian
glass around in our hands.
50’s kids…imagining the unimaginable…
the H-bomb…set off in our chests as we
cowered under desks and in our dreams.
Absurd as duck and cover was, at least we
didn’t know it. Today’s fourth graders have
nowhere to hide, and the worst of it is, they do.
What’s in a Name?
If yours is Gloria
you may be as old as I am.
Not many mothers dubbed
their daughters that since the 40’s
so let me ask…do you know if yours
was a paean to god in the highest
or given in the hope that a glamorous name
might add a little sparkle by association?
Were there copies of Photoplay lying around…
Modern Screen or Movie World, perhaps?
Did she idolize Swanson or De Haven…
maybe Vanderbilt or Grahame?
Crucifixes over every bed?
Six pointed stars, a menorah?
The photo of her in a black satin blouse
and a sultry smile is surely be a clue.
I was certainly no answered prayer…
a disappointment, I’m sure…
just another spacey kid with a thumb
stuck in her mouth.
So tell me, other Glorias, do you think
it was simply the name she liked,
or were you supposed to shine
in order to give her life meaning?
That’s what the vet called him.
How’s Happy-Go-Lucky today?
Probably vet-speak for dopey dog
and he was a lark of a fellow…
every car trip was a frolic,
every stroll, a smell fest.
All 135 pounds of him would drag me
from the car to the office door as if
the vet was handing out cheeseburgers.
Other dogs had to be coerced, some even
sedated. They trembled at their peoples’ knees
in the waiting room. Toy breeds were carried in
by owners who called them their babies.
Then came the diagnosis and the cancer center,
car trips, too long and too frequent…first time
he seemed to know where we were going.
He didn’t pull me in, but he didn’t fight me either.
Eerie sounds mingled with funky odors. Rows
of downcast faces, hands petting hooked-up pups
in cubicles, infusion bags. Bandages, wrapped
around the stumps of missing legs.
At the end, true to his nature, he lay acquiescent
on the table. I did what I had to: steadied a hand
on his flank… saved the tears for after.
© Gloria Parker
Gloria Parker is a retired primary school teacher. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Loch Raven Review, Slipstream, North Dakota Quarterly, Gyroscope, Rattle, Slipstream, Nimrod, Paterson Literary Review and elsewhere.