Abigail Coulter: “Elegy for Great-Grandma Fern”

Elegy for Great-Grandma Fern

She tells me
———-that she is a mountain,
———-the matriarch,
———-an institution in this family.
She has been here before this house existed,
———-before I was even a thought
———-in my parents’ brains.
She declares
———-that she is as old as old gets,
———-and she has seen as much as one can see.
She leans back
——————–and asks me
Isn’t that quite the accomplishment?
———-I nod.
She slides into her brown stained recliner,
———-her elbows creaking as she pulls the lever,
——————–her pink welted skin squeaking on the dull leather,
——————————a short strand of gray hair drifting off her head.

My dad peeks his head in the room to make sure I’m okay.
———-Ben, she says, who is this?
——————–and she points a wrinkled finger at me.
———-That’s my daughter, Dad says.
——————–She doesn’t believe him.
———-No, she insists, your girls are just babies.
——————–Dad shakes his head
——————–and tries again.
———-They’ve grown up, Grandma. They’re older now.
——————–She shakes her head and stares at me
——————————as if not completely sure I’m real.
———-Ben, she says,
I can’t remember them growing up.

She is a mountain
and when I find out she has died
———-I ask myself
——————–if mountains can ever really die.
———-I ask myself
——————–if they can remember
——————————the curve of their children’s faces
——————————or the laugh of their first grandchild.
———-I ask myself
——————–if they can remember


Abigail Coulter is a student at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and is involved with the writing community in Birmingham, Alabama. She is the recipient of the third-place fiction award from the Young Authors Writing Competition at Columbia College Chicago and has been published in the literary magazine Cadence.

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