Estelle Turner
by Jeffrey DeLotto

Estelle Turner, Age 94
Cooper Villa Retirement Village
Arlington, Texas

I know, you can smell the strawberries now,
Can’t you?...just walking across the field, after
The pickers have gone. Sadie, isn’t that Kookaboro
Standing over there next to the tractor—I thought
Bud sold that crazy mule last week—I thought so,
Fifty dollars, to that colored man in Nassawadox,
“If you can catch him,” Bud had told that man
After the last time Bud had chased that animal
Into the pen in his prized convertible Buick,
Bouncing across that tilled field, I swear I never
Laughed so hard….No, I did not go to lunch--
I don’t know those people. Peter’s wife? You?
Well, where’s little Petey? He’s such a good boy,
But he’s grown now? Of course—that’s right,
Sadie was just here—she always fixes my….
She’s the best older sister. After Billy pulled
My ponytail. I don’t want to go to exercise class,
Worked like a dog my whole life, I have a book
To read, and yes leave it on. Sometimes I watch
It—that Johnny Carson is such an elegant man—
I wish he could find the right woman. But I just
Put this on this morning, no, I have not had this
On for three days—it was cold this morning, makes
Me remember that time I got sick, Mama shook
The thermometer and dropped it, broke it on the
Kitchen floor and the mercury spilled out, balls
And clumps and tiny beads of it in the dust, some
We pushed together, some stayed separate—that’s
Like time is for me now, you understand, like that
Mercury on the kitchen floor…

And that woman who comes in here to help me
Get things on—she is taking things, you know—
My watch, the one Bud bought for me after he
Went to Las Vegas that time with his old Army
Buddies—no, I’m sure I still have it, put it on
Yesterday—Bud was just thrashing around in
Bed last night, soaking wet when he got up this
Morning—we have to have these twin beds, he’s
Still troubled so, keeps having bad dreams, those
Soldiers in Germany, trying so hard to hate the
Prisoners he was guarding—I know, isn’t that
A beautiful picture, one of the prisoners gave it
To Bud, painted from coffee grounds, a brush
Made from his hair—I hope it was his hair, but
You hear about the lampshades—the minds, the
Hearts, are what torture him so, so very many
“Spilled minds,” he says—but I like the Paydays,
The taste of them, reminds me of his folks down
In Dawson, in Georgia, we always stop over for
A few days on the way to Panama City—sand
Is so white—sugar beaches, we call them, and
That time Petey got stung by the Portuguese
Man o’war, not one within twenty feet of him,
Poor Petey just crying and whimpering, the red
Welts running across his back, like he’d been
Spanked with a clothes hanger….I can still feel
It, Pop didn’t like any boy coming over….When,
Yesterday? We went to the A&P, it was Saturday,
I love the way their coffee smells, and sawdust
On the floor in the butcher shop—Bud stopped
By the docks in Wachapreague to get clams—
When he opens them at the sink, Petey just
Waits, opens his mouth like a baby robin and
Gobbles them down—that boy will eat anything.
Virgil from across the road came over, they
Played drugstore and he told Petey a rotten
Cucumber was an ice cream cone, watched him
Eat it….

Hi—just look at those children—where did Petey
Get that shirt? Of course! Petey’s grown—Jack,
Come tell Nanna what you know—oh, football?
Three touchdowns? Come give me a hug—Why
Is that man staring at me? Right there, next to
The window! I don’t know why you can’t….
Plain as the nose on your face, he’s….
I don’t want to go out, my hip is still not strong,
Not like before, when I’d chase our children
Around—remember those chicks we bought
The children that Easter? I remember I’d sit in
The wood barrel of chicken feed and eat it, and
Then the rooster grew up, maybe crazy from the
Green dye, chased Petey whenever he saw him,
Jumping up in the air and flapping his wings and
Spurring at him, one day Petey coming in crying
And screaming, his legs all scratched and bloody,
And Bud went after that bird with a garden rake
And put a stop to that….

Of course you don’t remember—you’re Petey’s
Wife—I know that. May I have another Sprite?
Where did the children go? Children—my birthday

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