A Prose by Any Other Name

 


Evelyna


A Prose by Any Other Name

by Laura Summerville Reed


I cannot write in rhyme. My mind will not work that way.

I place the blame for this maladroitness of speech squarely

on my capably, creative mother.

She, who could play the piano with nimble hands,

never sat any of her four children in front

of the keys.

One afternoon, as a child, I watched her sketch a mural

across the entire length of a room on plain, brown Kraft paper.

She used smudged and worn oil crayons

that I didn't know she owned and never saw again.

When she’d finished, she simply tore it down

and tossed it into the trash.

She smiled at strangers, never in photographs.


I grew up healthy on meals she prepared

by stirring stones with a stick and turning out pots of gold.

I too, am a fine cook.

I learned this, not by direction, but by her audible

musings - ‘…don’t have any squash; wonder if okra will do…?’

‘Oh! Piss! I’m out of buttermilk, hope I have some vinegar.’

And so, today, I dash at this and pinch at that, and never make the

exact dish twice.

I don’t consider these things her shortcomings.

She was far too busy with the mundane waltzes her own demons

kept her dancing to for me hold such things against her.

Where her culpability lies is in my middle name;

it fails to entertain.


I was named after a paternal great grandmother; not so much in honor of her,

but rather after her. She was quite old and infirmed

when my mother married into the family, but it was a kind gesture

as I was the first girl child in many years.

Her name was Laura Belle.

My mother had the presence of mind to drop the rather round,

clattering, trussed, and hoop skirted name of Belle, and she had a myriad

of inspiration to fall back on.


As an example My grandmother was Zilpha.

Oh!

There’s a name! I’m certain I would have hated it, but it’s a terrible thing

that such a name could not survive the modern age.

For many generations back and sideways there were variations.

Zilphiannes, Zilphynnas, Zylphias, and on and on they branched

in many directions and across decades.

There were also Priscillas, Angelines and Carolines.

My mother chose none of these wonderfully lyrical names.

Nor did she choose my favorite.

Evelyna.

A sister to my grandfather. I adored her name.

All those around her called her Ev or Evie. She preferred Evelyna.

I know this; I have a few letters, written in her youth.

Her endearments always signed, ‘Evelyna’.

Imagine the lessons one would learn simply from

the responsibility of penning such a wonderful name;

all the curls and loops and ethereal flow.

Evelyna Ballerina. She would have laughed in her tinkling,

palsied, little voice to hear me say that.


She raised cows and chickens.

She sold fresh eggs and milk. She churned the sweetest, creamiest, dreamiest,

richest butter I've ever tasted. I hold every lover, whose lips I've ever tasted, to that

standard - all but two have been margarine on my biscuits in the morning light.


She was a tiny woman, my Aunt Ev, made smaller still, by the daily bend and stoop

of a hard life lived over buckets and pales. Long hours in the sun were spent

in a calico bonnet. She looked as fragile as the eggs she gathered,

but was, perhaps more like a creek stone; solid - worn smooth from years of only the same

rushing past.

Her skin remained as lovely white as the milk before she churned it

to pure sunshine, but for a scar that she wore to one side of her lovely face

like a cold kiss from the silvery moon.


There was cancer, in her neck, or perhaps it was her jaw.

I’m not certain, but they got it all - and then some.

“You can never be too careful, but these farmer’s daughters are a sturdy lot.

She’ll be good as new in no time.”


Oh! Evelyna Ballerina!

With a name such as that,

so many rhymes would have sprung to my mind!

But alas and alack, it was replaced with the prosaically flat

and rather pedestrian syllable - Lee.

©LSR 2010

Comments 21 comments

ralwus 6 years ago

Well not everyone can rhyme, and I prefer you don't. You do a great job! CrisA is the finest of poets here and he cannot rhyme either and feels as you do. I like your name and you have told a great story here darlin'. I am in love with your mom and grandma now. LOL my kind of people for sure.


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

I will visit him and get a few pointers. If you say he's the best here then I must read. The sun is well up, so perhaps I will sleep for a bit. Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day, though, seems a waste. I'm glad you like the ladies in my family.


ralwus 6 years ago

yeah, I hope you sleep well Princess.


Astra Nomik profile image

Astra Nomik 6 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

I just loved reading this. It was funny and had this nice whimsicality that is familiar and refreshing. You have a wonderful skewed way of looking back on life and your relationship with your mom. Very enjoyable. Thank you for a nice readable and warm hub here! :)


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

Charlie, I did sleep, although not well or for long. I must do better tonight. I will call on Prince Lunesta and his trusty stead, haha!

Astra Nomik, your comment brings a smile to my face, thank you.


ralwus 6 years ago

I can't sleep tonight. It must be catchy. LOL


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

I can't sleep any night, but I love the night. Makes it hard to be a productive member of society, however, lol.


Enigmatic Me profile image

Enigmatic Me 6 years ago from East Coast Canada

A summer breeze on a spring day... your words they a story have spun. I am pleased to have been an audience to your musings.


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

Hello Enigmatic Me, pleased to make your acquaintance. Thank you so much and I'm glad you enjoyed my little ramble.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

What a lovely tribute saturated with memories. It made me smile much. Thank you.


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

And thank you, my new friend.


Rossimobis profile image

Rossimobis 6 years ago from Biafra

Don't know how i got here but i like it anyway,nice rhyme...great hub.


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

My writing...an unexpected surprise at the end of a meandering path; what a lovely thought for my evening. Thank you, my new friend.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I think Lee is just alright. My mothers middle name is Lee. It's a family name. My daughter's middle name is Lee. A lot of the same choir is here, even Rossi. Thanks Lalesu. I loved your writing and reminiscing.


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

Thank you, Micky dee and Lee is just alright but it isn't a "Laura Evelyna Summerville Reed" kinda right. With one such as that, I'd have gotten off my lazy bum and my name would be up in paint by now! Ha! Ha!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Ahh but Vivian Leigh, Robert E. and myself have done well with Lee. I can hardly imagine another me. And every gracious adverb ends with my middle name. Lovinglee, handsomelee and winsomelee. Evelyna may pique the mind but another name is hard to find that graces so many descriptive lines.

RespectfulLee yours

Sincerelee yours

Winsomelee yours =:)


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

Haha! Cleverlee put, Winsome.


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

Seems like your mother ached for attention. Beautiful poem...


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

Thank you, Augustine. To be in the sunlight or completely left alone - it was the greyness in between that was so difficult for her, but her resourcefulness and spirit piloted on and she raised four children, almost single handedly; one of which is, smart, witty, beautiful, creative, kind, and quite charming - if you don't believe me just ask any one of my siblings, LMAO!!


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

I concur!


lalesu profile image

lalesu 6 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon Author

Such a gentleman.

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