Poem of the Fortnight

Another family poem, recently out of my critiquing group. Thelma (my mother), born in 1913, died in 2005. While writing this poem I tried to find an obituary or death record for Rose, who was born in 1910, but the only thing I found was a newspaper item from May, 2010, which mentioned her approaching 100th birthday.

Thelma and Rose

One English, staunchly Protestant,

used to spouting anti-Papism in her Yorkshire brogue,

Thelma, my husband Gary, and Rose, in Ormond Beach, Florida, in 2001. The ladies are even dressed alike!

the other French-Canadian, devoutly Catholic,

praying at weekly mass in her Cajun-like accent—

it didn’t matter.


They took regular walks along the shoreline

of their little Florida town

and were known to all the shopkeepers and beachcombers,

missed when they became too frail.


After lunches at the senior center

they spent afternoons in one or the other’s living room

with needlework and their daily glass of wine

(or, in Thelma’s case, her second or third,

while Rose, barely sipping, considered it medicine),

discussing their late husbands, their children, their pasts—

whatever old ladies talk about.


When the phone rang at Thelma’s in the evening

she would pick it up and say to Rose,

“I was just about to call you.”


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