TWO BUTTERMILKS FOR PAMELA
I knock but know she can’t hear me.
The TV blasts through the door. I turn the knob,
walk into the kitchen calling
Meals on Wheels.
I set her institutional lunch
on the counter. In the other room,
like a gray mourning dove,
she’s perched before the screen.
I approach gingerly, afraid I’ll startle her.
She looks up with a wide smile.
Don’t get up, I say. I brought your lunch.
Ninety-four years old she lives alone,
in a mobile home on a twisting mountain trail,
her son a stone’s throw down the road.
Struggling to her feet, she pushes
her walker toward me,
Oh, thank you. A hundred times thank you.
I enjoy so much the buttermilk. It keeps me going.
I get two, you know.
We inch our way to the door.
Hope you enjoy it, Mrs. Lawrence.
She takes my hand, speaks to me
as if we were dear friends,
Call me Pamela.
Author’s Comment: For several years, here in the mountains of western NC, my husband and I delivered Meals on Wheels to people who were disabled or elderly and could no longer cook for themselves. I was struck by the loneliness of many of them, like Pamela, who often saw no one all day except the one who brought him or her a hot meal. We encountered some emergency situations. A woman had fallen, and she could not reach her phone to call for help. She said she didn’t panic because she knew a “Meals on Wheels” volunteer would be by before too long. By donating a couple of hours of our time one day a month, our own lives were enriched when we saw their faces as we gave hugs, smiles and some conversation that brightened the days of folks like Pamela.
Bio: Glenda Council Beall published a poetry chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, in 2009. Her poems and stories have been published in numerous journals, including Wild Goose Poetry Review and Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Beall is the owner and director of Writers Circle Around the Table, a studio for writers in Hayesville, NC. She serves as the Clay County Representative for NCWN-West and is a member of the NC Poetry Society. She manages two blog sites, http://www.glendacouncilbeall.blogspot.com and http://www.profilesandpedigrees.blogspot.com