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Ann Neuser Lederer

On Call Visit


The Panic of Alarm

On Call Visit

A trick to try: at night, it might not work.
But in the day – green strands
sway, honeysuckled air – in the day,
think random reminiscence, some flicker to make you smile: a                                                       
fellow student's remark on your art in a long ago weaving class,
something a mouse might pull from its hole,
a bundle of gnarled, chewed gray.

At first in the restless dark, at six, keeping pace at 60 mph,
sunshine suddenly warms your shoulder, steady as a hand.
When the trip is done you find the grandma peacefully passed at sunrise.

Old sun, companion, recurrent as the cheerful mouse mess,
or a present left on your car roof in the rain by someone demented:
bouquet of slimy spiderworts, muddy roots intact, ragged branches
snapped from dogwoods, faded, drooping, long-legged flag lilies,
ant-filled peonies stolen from his mother’s yard – the giver
standing silently by, grim faced, yet secretly pleased.


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A Patchwork of Estimates
Clutching a little box of raisins, she stares as the chanting girls advance. “Cry Baby, Cry Baby.”
The drowned return as doomed infants, lower teeth bared like a cat named “Bite Face.”

Disturbing the Veneers of Certainty
Already we try to hide it, too timid to discard completely. A hint, intended peek.
From the box to a bag, then bag within another bag, almost out of sight.

Simulated Quietude Drifts Towards Reprieve
Pacing the halls and empty stairwells, waiting. Packed provisions in her smallest bag, nibbled
a corner halfway down the stairs. Beware the ruining of the heart from exercise and bitterness.

One Day the Pattern Veered
On usual path but lowered eyes, shrouded as fog. Wrong day, wrong time, wrong garb,
wrong company. Notice the verbs smooth out the edges, hide the veil.

Connect the Dots
Her hair, she admitted, she colors herself, tinted as youth. Revealed: Mother stopped when
she broke a hip. While getting dressed the naked ladies chatted; conflated details wantonly.

All Stories are Fictions
Ice on the forehead for an egg from the trampoline eventually disappears. Sketches
were parking lots and worm holes. But change, oh change, is always in pursuit.


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The Panic of Alarm

Haloed. You know what that foretells. 
Storm warning, second day of Super Moon.
Then rows of days encased in glass. 

Stew of chemical and fumes. The panic of alarm.
A fireman scolds: you people need to learn to cook. 
Veiled, an elder in the crowded vestibule
clutches a tiny, earringed girl, whose bare legs dangle.

Smiling, a woman wraps her jacket around the child. The grandma
smiles too, but does not speak, until a trial – les grands-mères
exchange “un peu de Français."

A roar. Trees tussle. Just before, walking the frozen snow,
stunned by the broken, frozen harbor. No one else was there. 
The water cracks like a window shattered. 

Blizzard stays busy, but starting to fail.
Throwing snow and wind, its wheezy lungs, like Grandma’s,
when bundled onto the gurney by soft-spoken, burly EMTs. 
"When will I see you again?" she asks, amidst goodbyes.

From the faraway place still strapped in snow,
a sweet little grandchild squeaks "Where are you now?"

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Ann Neuser Lederer was born in Ohio and has also lived and worked in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kentucky as a Registered Nurse. Prior to nursing she studied art and earned degrees in anthropology. Her poetry and nonfiction appear in online and print journals; anthologies such as Best of the Net, A Call To Nursing, Pulse, and The Country Doctor Revisited; and in her chapbooks, Approaching Freeze, The Undifferentiated, and Weaning the Babies.

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