For We Write Poems: Protagonist Series
And for Poem Tryouts at Margo’s Word Gatherings: Escher
Interview With Miz Anastasia Fit: in which she does all the talking
Mary Beth was fourth, in a line of twelve,
while I was number ten. Guess Ma was tired
by then, asked Pa to figure a name, but Pa
said that was women’s work. Ma turned
to my then ten year old sister and told her it was
time to learn what women’s work was all
about. So, she could take a turn finding
a name for this next one.
Mary Beth took her time, but when I finally
came, told Ma I would be named Anastasia.
Ma didn’t like it, too fancy for the likes of us.
When she’d try to call me Ann, or Anna,
Mary Beth would sigh, tell her softly that
a name was definition, that if you rendered
it differently, by cutting it short, you’d make
a person less than she was intended to be.
Years later, when I asked, she told me in a hush
of a Russian princess who had outwitted
those blood thirsty Bolsheviks. Sole survivor
of her entire family, she escaped to travel the world
and now lived free right here in our country. Sister
said she wanted me to have a name I could grow into,
one with the energy needed to renew life, no matter
the bad times, or harm that others might bring.
Mary Beth was more than my sister. She was mother
and friend. She loved school but, as a rule, when she
wasn’t there she was caring for me: making sure
I was fed, filling my head with stories she got from books,
sharing her dreams and secrets while combing my hair,
always there when I needed her.
Like the time I fell down and hurt my knee. Was trying
to hide it ‘cause I’d been where I wasn’t supposed to be.
She found me crying and, quick as a professional strawberry
picker, redid a pair of her old pants, baggy enough to be used
to cover the scrapes and bruises. Then she kissed my cheek,
smoothed my hair, and said with a smile,
“Next time, please be more careful.”
She got that I was different, went my own way, always
had a ton of questions, ‘cause lessons at school were too dang
boring. Did my chores in my own manner, though some
would say I was a trifle scatter-brained, she knew I was always
thinking, drinking in whatever was there before me.
When I found her that day, crumpled on the ground,
clothes rumpled and torn, crying all forlorn
with a bloodied lip, as though she’d been bitten,
I didn’t hesitate to do as she asked. Hurried to
the tasks of fetching some other clothes,
bringing wash rag and comb, never said a word
to anyone at home, especially Ma. “Whatever
you do,” she had begged, “Please don’t tell Ma.”
I think I’ve had enough for now. Have gotten way
ahead of myself. You wanted to know of that scarlet
red dress and that part comes before this one. Feel a bit like
a time traveler, unraveling all these old memories, trying
to connect these bits of story together, yet still have them
be coherent. It’s been more than difficult telling these things
that should have been told years ago, but Mary Beth
would have it so. I’ll try again tomorrow.
Elizabeth Crawford 5/30/13