Using “Psalm and Lament” by Donald Justice as a model, write an elegy. The poem should be written in couplets, repeat words, include a parenthetical remark, and describe the environment.
The flowers bloom on wooden trellises. My grandmother
sits in the Trellis Gardens retirement apartment crying.
The sound of an airplane floods through the open window.
The WWII model airplane points its nose downward.
A maroon carpeted hall once led to grandpa’s intensive care,
but now there is no need to pass by the flowery wall-papered corridor.
Just the children come (they come for grandma’s sake)
but nothing official is done for months.
Grandma watches television, looks through magazines,
watches more television, and sleeps.
The birds visit her window. They eat from her feeder.
No one else visits. It’s hard to visit and she’s hard to visit,
though we love her and feel guilty sometimes.
In the summer the family makes it to Michigan.
It isn’t so sad. (We knew he was gone five years ago.
On the last visit, I remember we took him on a short walk
to look at flowers, but who knows what he saw.
To me he looked stiff, empty, decaying.)
The saddest part, in fact, was seeing grandma in her condition,
three hundred pounds, relying on her oxygen tank,
unable to kneel down herself and put a daisy,
a memory of the name she goes by, on grandpa’s urn.
I thought the daisy was perfect,
but it made me really sad and I cried.
in memory of Russell Noble