*I've wanted to write this poem for almost five years after I heard Mary Ellen's story on NPR. This poem is nowhere close to what it could be, but that's not the point. The point is to write every day. I wrote this in a fatigue-induced fog last night. It was fun.
Mary Ellen lived alone in a bunglow with green trim
just outside of LA. Every Friday, Sue, a runner
for the Sav-Right pharmacy, brought her insulin,
testing strips, crestor, Spiriva. Mary Ellen tipped
her two dollars every time. No family pictures
dotted the walls of her house. Instead, she filled
empty spaces with items she bought from QVC
or HSN. Her answering machine, connected to a yellow
rotary phone, told everyone the same thing for
ten years: No name, no number, no nothing.
At the hospital, before surgery, she couldn't think
of anyone but Sue to put down as her emergency
contact. She'd lost contact with her son, Robert,
after losing her address book. During surgery,
she thought she heard the faint cry of a baby,
so she rose to check on him, and never woke up.
Sue received the next-of-kin call that afternoon.
She had trouble placing Mary Ellen's face,
but could see her hands folding two dollar
bills into her own. The next day, the police
met her at Mary Ellen's house. Sue looked
at all the baby dolls lined up along the
dining room walls, their empty faces waiting
for someone to say hello.