She paid five bucks a month to have a star
named after her.
She would point to the sky’s crush of stars
and say there it is.
This is the same Viola whose creditors
took away her furniture every quarter
as if her house were a stage set.
Viola, who used to pay me
to pull Spanish moss from her oaks
as she lay in a lounge chair,
the bachelors in the apartment complex
eyeing her through binoculars.
Viola, whose husband came home one night
and threw her lover naked
into the street.
who reprimanded her husband
for not trusting her, demanding an apology.
Viola, who I learned today
died several years ago. Viola,
who I suddenly miss. I squint up
at the night sky. I wonder how many times, Viola,
your star has been renamed? It’s missing,
as if you didn’t keep up the payments.
Like you, reclaimed by your creditors.
by Bob Bradshaw
Editor’s Note: The narrator’s casual voice belies the sudden grip of nostalgia for a more innocent past.
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