Annabelle Lee lived across the
road from my Granny’s house,
we met the year I was ten.
She had piercing ice- blue eyes
long hair the color of straw
and she never wore shoes.
Annabelle Lee could run
like the wind!
She was with me that time
I fell on the edge of the new road
that was being laid out in town;
between Granny’s house
and her house…
tiny houses on two sides of a new highway
in an old town in Oklahoma
looking on with great interest,
as my mother and Granny
poured hydrogen peroxide
marveling how it bubbled up
mixing with the clotting dark red blood
Annabelle Lee knew no fear!
She liked bugs…
Caterpillars and katydids.
She liked peach ice cream.
She called her Granny, Meemey.
Annabelle Lee ran barefoot
through the town,
sometimes taking me along,
in my slower sandal-clad feet,
to exciting places she knew…
that summer, when I was ten.
She was there to teach me about fireflies
magically capturing them
making our own personal fairy lanterns
in old emptied out mason jars
She was there to help churn
fresh peach ice-cream,
on my Granny’s front porch,
the only time I’ve ever enjoyed it,
home made from a churn.
She sat beside me in the storm shelter
half-filled with brackish water, when
the tornado siren blew;
holding my frightened hand
tightly in hers. I loved her fearlessness.
Sometimes I would read to her from my Bobbsey Twins books
on her weathered front porch in the
humid afternoon sun, when I was ten years old.
That year we were moving to Mississippi.
Annabelle Lee died when I was eleven.
She drowned in the manmade lake
The lake where we had sprawled in the grass
on a hilltop watching fireworks on the fourth of July,
earlier that year.
I read the newspaper clipping
Granny enclosed in a letter
Annabelle Lee was drowned and dead;
Fishes nibbled her tiny fingers
and her always bare toes.
I pictured her floating face down
straw-blond hair streaming…
bright blue eyes wide open in surprise.
I wonder now
how she’d have grown.
Would she have studied bugs, or
ran in the Olympics, or
pursued medical school
with her curious, inquisitive nature.
I have never thought about
Annabelle Lee again…
until this past week, that is.
Her memory has made my
sixty-three year old heart sigh.
Suddenly, I am sad.
June 14, 2012