Two poems By Margaret Donovan Bauer
My Last Conversation with My Grandmother
In memory of Rebecca Donovan Colvin
“You get paid to read,”
my grandmother once remarked,
proud of the family English professor,
but not envious, or so we thought.
“I had my home and my husband,
my children and grandchildren.
I even held all my great-grandchildren
from Beau to baby Thomas,
but you have so much more.”
“My mother did not say that,”
Mom said, when I relayed to her
this telephone conversation with her mother
on my fortieth birthday.
My grandmother had never aspired to more,
or so we thought.
But she did seem to
enjoy her twenty years
It was the first time
When her mother died,
she stepped up
and took care of three younger siblings,
then married right out of college
and took care of her husband and
“I just worry,” my grandmother said.
“Who will take care of you
when you are old?”
“Who is taking care of you, MaMa?”
I asked. “You live alone, too.”
Until her nineties,
she drove the old people to church
in her big Cadillac
(the old people probably ten, even twenty
years her junior).
We teased that she could barely
reach the pedals,
but there was no shortness
of love for her grandchildren.
August 27, 2021
Upon turning out the light each night
they would clasp hands
and drift off together.
The night of her Goodbye,
my sweet man,
she bunched the sheet together
to hold onto.
A native of South Louisiana, Margaret Donovan Bauer is the Rives Chair of Southern Literature and Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. In 2017, she received the North Carolina Award for Literature for her two decades as editor of the North Carolina Literary Review. She is also the author of four books on Southern writers, most recently A Study of Scarletts: Scarlett O’Hara’s Literary Daughters, but since that book, she has turned to writing a memoir about growing up in Deep South Louisiana. Read her essays and poems previously published in Deep South here.