Monday Morning Poem: Annie Stayed.

November 9th, 2009

My maternal grandfather died a couple of years ago.

We were very fond of each other – he took me to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (a full day and a half drive) from 7th grade through my high school graduation, a gift of immeasurable impact.  He was a bright, curious, caring, and endlessly enthusiastic man. He reacted with genuine joy whenever his didactic little granddaughter held forth on erudite topics.  I still remember his delight upon hearing me tear apart the production of Romeo and Juliet that was one of the first productions we saw together at OSF.

I didn’t ask for anything of his after he passed away; my mother knowingly brought me a few things that meant a lot, but all in all my memories were the most vivid token of our relationship.  Recently, however, his last wife sent my mother a number of his old files.  Including one entire manila folder full of every letter and picture and document I had ever sent him, or that my parents had sent him relating to me.

So I’ve rediscovered verything from short stories I wrote in second grade to novellas I wrote in middle school to graduation notices and e-mails and silly cards.  I haven’t quite had the strength to go through all of it yet, but one thing I did find:  the poem below.  I remember this odd, apocalyptic little poem quite well but had no record of it myself, so knowing that he had it all along is very touching.

And, now that he’s gone, the poem – being as its topic is a girl with a fondness for the departed – takes on a sweet poignance.

Anyway. Here it is.
Laundry day

Annie stayed.

Annie McSalva stood that day
but no one was there to enjoy her stay
only the ghosts had not gone away

Annie remained for the ghosts.

Annie McSalva walked down the streets
her feet tapping sidewalk to various beats
She looked in the theatres, all empty seats

Annie played Hamlet for ghosts.

Annie McSalva read all the books
out loud, in the library, and none gave sharp looks
the ghosts listened well in their crannies and nooks

Annie read on for the ghosts.

Annie McSalva swam in the pond
that led to the gutters and sewers beyond
but nobody stayed to drink that which was fond

to Annie, who swam with the ghosts.

Annie McSalva lay in the sun
and thought that the world had only begun
but the ghosts whispered back that it almost was done

Annie survived with the ghosts.

photo by Nocturnal Bob


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