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A Prose by Any Other Name

Updated on August 20, 2017



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 fingers,

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, rarely 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 any intended direction, but by her audible

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

‘Oh! Piss! I’m out of buttermilk, hand me the 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.

No, where her culpability lies is in my middle name;

it fails to entertain.

I was named primarily after a paternal great grandmother;

not so much in honor of her,

but rather after her. She was quite old and infirmed

at the time that my mother married into the family,

and had died a number of years before I was born,

but it was a kind gesture,

as I was the first girl child of a new generation.

Her name was Laura Belle.

My mother had the presence of mind to drop the rather trussed and hoop

skirted, round and clattering sounding name of Belle, and she had a myriad

of inspiration to fall back on.

As an example, My paternal grandmother was Zilpha.


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.

But my mother chose none of these wonderfully lyrical names.

Nor did she choose my favorite name.


A sister to my grandfather. I adored her name.

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

I know this; I have a few notes and cards, written in her youth.

Her endearments always signed, ‘Evalena’.

Imagine the lessons one would learn simply from

the responsibility of penning such a wonderful name;

all the curls and loops and ethereal flow.

Evalena 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 perhaps she was 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.

And upon her cheek and deep into the her slender neck, a silvery scar where life demanded it's few ounces of flesh.

There was cancer in her throat, 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! Evalena 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


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    • lalesu profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

      Such a gentleman.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      11 years ago from Texas

      I concur!

    • lalesu profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

      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

      Augustine A Zavala 

      11 years ago from Texas

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

    • lalesu profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

      Haha! Cleverlee put, Winsome.

    • Winsome profile image


      11 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 imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

      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!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      11 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 imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

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

    • Rossimobis profile image

      Chibuzo Melvin Mobis 

      11 years ago from Nigeria

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

    • lalesu profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

      And thank you, my new friend.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 

      11 years ago from ON THE ROAD

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

    • lalesu profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

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

    • Enigmatic Me profile image


      11 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 imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

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

    • profile image


      11 years ago

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

    • lalesu profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

      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.

    • Astra Nomik profile image

      Cathy Nerujen 

      11 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! :)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      yeah, I hope you sleep well Princess.

    • lalesu profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from south of the Mason-Dixon

      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.

    • profile image


      11 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.


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