Sunday, June 8, 2008


lying blank
against the pavement
it came to fetch her . . .
this now
her deathbed in the leaves
where she lay
silent and still.
Poor old woman
no one knew her name
but she was waiting moments past
impatient for the school bus
and her grandson's happy smile.
The two year old had toddled
up the path beside her
one hand holding lollipops for his brother
the other, Grandma's soft black skirt.
Now he looks with giant eyes
as life departing frees his hand
and slumps like crumpled cloth
upon the ground.
Grandma! Grey and cloudy
like this day of no goodbyes.

And her spirit moved among the leaves
in sorrow great for these, the little ones
in her charge . . . in her love.
"Weep for me, my little one.
Weep your brother too,
who only hears the bus wheels
rounding corners, humming home tunes
unaware the days of holding hands are done.
Hide me, someone, from his searching glance
as round the bend that yellow transport glides
floating full of children's laughter.
Flag a detour . . . someone kind!
Don't let my deathbed be a spectacle
announcing his arrival
painting pictures
black and fearful in his heart.
Enough this little one, my witness.
Enough . . . this bus stop.

Joanne Cucinello 2007


  1. This piece reminds me of Pablo Neruda's "Fin de Fiesta." Beautiful. It talks about life and the inevitability of passing away. Thanks for such a deep thought.

  2. can you imagine the agony,, if she was conscious enough to know that the two year old was now untended and the first thing the older boy would see was her laying in the gutter.. oh joanne,,, this was impeccable... i cannot even begin to fathom the inspiration here... but i am envious indeed of the vision.....

  3. Thank you both, kabelle and paisley.
    I wrote this poem many years ago and just tweeked it recently. This death really happened one October afternoon, years ago when my children were in elementary school. My 6 yr. old son came running through the door panicked and screaming, "Mommy, the Grandma's dead by the bus stop!"
    I grabbed my sweater and ran with him. Brendan's bus was the first and the old woman was waiting for the kindergarten bus to pull up, standing there with her little toddler grandson in hand. She was an immigrant form Greece and only visiting her daughter's family we found out later.
    The other mothers who had come out of their houses by now were all bending over to see if she was alive and I bent over too. She was grey faced with blank eyes and blood spilling from the corner of her mouth. . . no breath, no pulse. The little one was just staring and someone else was holding his hand trying to comfort him.
    It was then that I panicked when I heard the wheels of the yellow bus coming around the bend and realized this little five year old would be seeing this unforgettable scene when the bus door opened and he stepped down. So I ran to the corner w/ my son and stopped the bus. The driver let me walk the youngster slowly up the street while I tried to explain and calm him. By then his mother had arrived in her car and we heard the ambulance sirens in the distance. My own little boy had nightmares for weeks and worried evey day if he was going to find his own grandma who lived with us . . . dead too. So thus . . . my poem for the stranger I'll never forget.


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