Sunday, April 28, 2013

Feeling guilty about my poem-a-day promise

Today, in response to Kerry's choice of Harper Lee and her amazing book To Kill a Mockingbird, I could only respond in prose. One kind friend commented "Am glad you chose prose for this, Kay, it deserved the gravitas" which is a lovely compliment.
But a page of prose does not a poem make, so I considered the fact that today is Ms Harper Lee's 87th birthday, and wrote a verse about it.
Harper Lee in earlier years,
looking much like
her character Scout
My father, a writer with much of the wisdom Ms Lee attributes to her character, Atticus Finch, was 83 when he died, and he no longer recognized the books he wrote. When I read that Ms Lee is now in assisted living, I had to wonder how happy she is about the situation.

To Harper Lee, April 28, 2013

eighty-seven years old, Ms Lee
I hope you’re as happy as you can be
under the circumstances.

even if your royalties are only 10 percent
surely you would have enough for rent

your health is said to be poorly
and you’re in assisted living...
I hope you’re getting the assistance you need,
for instance, is there someone who can read
loud enough for you in your deafness
now that you are partly blind as well?
do you get to choose what’s read
or do they treat you as if dead?

is your food fresh every day
or does it come from far away?
in huge tin cans or else flash-frozen
being cheaper by the dozen?

do they put you in a tub-chair?
over in a corner where you
have no one to talk to?

eighty-seven is
a great many years, Ms Lee
I hope it’s not longer than you want it to be
Kay Davies, April 28, 2013

I saw this on Facebook. It makes me, an old editor, laugh.
It makes my friend, a retired teacher, laugh
about "the dog ate my homework"!
I hope it would make Harper Lee laugh as well.


Susie Clevenger said...

Oh this is so poignant. It is such a shame that age brings us to a place where others think we don't deserve the simple dignity of personhood. I love the dog photo. I am afraid he would refuse to eat my work. :)

Outlawyer said...

I certainly hope she has a great life too. I
Just love the book as do many. Thanks. This is Karin Gustafson, Manicddaily, but blogger. Making stick to old blogger account.

Anonymous said...

OH, man, Harper Lee is in assisted living? That is truly sad.

Yes, sometimes we live longer than we want, but only because doctors keep bringing us back from the brink.

I am so glad you decided to do a verse as well! The dog pic was cute, but I hope you were not speaking of your own work! Amy

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
OH Kay....kudos. This is an amazing followup! As one who until leaving for India had spent the previous 6 years specialising in aged care it is especially meaningful.

Hugs. YAM xx


Fireblossom said...

I can't eat this! LOL! Someone sent me a similar picture with a cat dressed in a military uniform and asking, "Do you think that grammar is a f*cking GAME?!?" I died laughing.

I have always wondered why Harper Lee wrote only the one book. (as far as I know)

kaykuala said...

Such a moving tribute. Aging is a journey and an experience the same for everyone. But the ending is totally mystified and mystifying! Nicely Kay!


Kerry O'Connor said...

This really brought tears to my eyes - that such a world-wide icon should end up with poor care in her old age. It's an awful scenario.

Jinksy said...

Hint - Maybe an extra 't' for your tin cans?!
Poignant poem...

Penelope Puddlisms said...

Very interesting post, Kay! I think the author did not expect such instant success for a first novel. Who would? As she has suggested this can be more frightening than failure in some ways. Such an esteemed book can be impossible to live up to and perhaps prevented her from attempting another.

Daryl said...

love that photo, for a nano sec i thought it was Lindy!

EG CameraGirl said...

Ha! I'm sure Harper Lee would find the cartoon funny. Well, pretty sure. It certainly made me giggle. :)