Aunt Lois


Her body thrives but her mind rattles,
searches, usually finds that story
about the boy who picked on her dog.
Sometimes he is a neighbor boy,
sometimes the son of the housekeeper
or of her widowed father’s lover.

She beats them all, wins every time,
the dog protected from all comers.
Her father backs her—knows
she wouldn’t strike without cause.
Mothers and sons protest, deny.

Of all ninety years, later pets and loves,
why does she return to that incident daily,
hourly? Injustice and fury her pinnacle,
a life’s most vivid moment.
Perhaps because she is the heroine,
not an old woman on a couch.

She flies back over the years, rescues
the four-legged. No cape,
just a pair of elastic-waist jeans,
a no-iron shirt and comfortable shoes, fists
flying in her mind’s eye, bloodying
the young villain who picked on her dog.

Cathy Barber