A Poem A Day To Keep The Doctor Away (1979)


For desert tonight

Have a memory

A poem a day

To keep the doctor away.



We’re both older now

And I wonder

Do you still remember me?


Did those soft warm years

That we shared

Touch you?


Paddling back and forth,

Forth and back,

To the pantry, to the

Big oak table, through

The musty halls of comfort.


I loved you, I love you so, as a girl

I’d almost forgotten

How close we were


I remembered membered remembered last night

As a woman


Many years after

Time turned bad and sour in the family

And our love ceased to be sweet.


The memory is vague

There are so many cobwebs to be lifted

And to think of how you are these days


Brings me futility and pain.

Last time I saw you I could hardly see

Through the tears in your eyes

I choose to feel instead another life far away.


A life that would have comforted

And nurtured you also

As it does your grand-daughter

If you’d only had the choice.


It’s too late now, it’s too late, your old

And wrinkled and they give

You drugs to destroy you

In your wisdom and beauty


In our moment of strength

They tie you down


To the chair we once

Played on together.


Your thoughts are scattered

And recently you’ve taken on the habit

Of suddenly screaming

“Oh God oh God oh God”.


The others turn away from you

I try to talk with you

To dull your pain and fear

I try to piece together your words

Each coming from a different decade of your life.


It almost seems

You were purposely leading me on

Giving me clues.


I’m alone tonight

As you are grand-ma

And I miss you more

Than you will ever know


You are my roots

You shared my struggles

To grow as I share yours now,

To die.


For desert tonight

Have a memory

A poem a day

To keep the doctor away.


A Poem A Day To Keep The Doctor Away

©Susan Lynn Gesmer, 1979-1980, Keene, NH

2 thoughts on “A Poem A Day To Keep The Doctor Away (1979)

  1. Diana says:

    If our grandmothers had had a choice…….
    I have fantasized about other paths my grandmother may have “chosen.”
    “Choice” was not in her lexicon. Her life map was plotted all along. And I am here to testify for choice, in her honor; my choices enabled by her service.
    Now my own daughter treads a path that has been mapped by lenders. Her choice to further her education has led to no choice.
    May her roots nourish her as her great-Nonna encourages her from beyond.

  2. Susan Gesmer says:

    Beautifully written, Diana. Although not at all good news.

    Even though the system is constricting and defining your daughter, removing choices and limiting options; yes, it is a sure thing that her roots will nourish her and she will continue becoming the beautiful thriving unfolding emerging woman she has aways been and will always be.

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