I was the smallest girl in second grade
and Miss Perry, a clear-eyed
pretty bird of a teacher,
always picked me
to help her
with the little classroom chores.
I had a sister who had
more friends than I did and the other
was smarter. But every day
I would dream I was
the belle of the ball.
No matter what the weather,
I declared my life a holiday.
These memories often visit me
during the day, imagine that,
all these years later, life later,
all the joys and tragedies later.
At night, I worry about
the one breath that won’t return to me.
In the end, thoughts don’t die.

(Written for the “Midweek Motif” over at the Poets United blog. The prompt was titled “Holy Days and Holidays.”)

©A. D. Joyce, 2014


24 thoughts on “Octogenarian

  1. How wonderful to remember that teacher who asked you to help with classroom chores. That was no small thing really. It meant she thought a lot of you, knew you were responsible. I understand the dream to be the belle of the ball, but I bet you ended up happy…which is the most important thing.


  2. Laurie Kolp

    This is beautiful. As children, we sure do find ways to cope through our imagination… glad the memory has stayed with you. I especially like:

    At night, I worry about
    the one breath that won’t return to me.


  3. I love when my 90 year old parents bring up these memories. It’s got me going on mine already. This poem is formed in that short-breathed rhythm that makes the last line so precious–breath may leave, but the memories don’t. Love! Thanks for posting, friend.


  4. Diane

    Your poem reminds me of the stories my sweet frail mother tells, smiling brightly as she holds onto to those long ago memories while she still can. At the same time, I think of my sisters, too.
    Well done!


  5. lately, i’ve thought about the end of this journey. my wife’s mother just passed away in Nov.2015 so did our little canine on the same time frame and now, as of today 5/19/16, she just got a text from her brother that dad is non-responsive so we must journey to his bedside. this continuous departure of faces expected always to be there has caused me to think about my departure my last breath. this also causes me to reflect much like you wonderfully stated in this piece. gracias for this sharing that for me is commiserative ….http://nene-lifewhispers.blogspot.com


    • My sincere condolences for your losses, Marcoantonio. I’m honored that you have found something to relate to in my poem. It just so happens that in my real life recently, I experienced the loss of an elderly aunt I was close to. It definitely causes one to reflect. I’m thinking that I should strive to feel as much love and joy as I can in every moment, much like the sentiment expressed in your beautiful poem, “light pierces the grey.” Love and peace to you ❤


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