One Point Five Hours at the Group Home

by Ann Neuser Lederer

Eelie, grinning, saunters in. Waiting, eager, to be asked to tell his story. Little rhinestone earring glowing. How he energized his favorite black fish by stirring it around in its tank with its sieve. Now the lethargic fish is lively again. Eelie laughs and laughs, proud of his achievement. I have been putting pills into the lavender plastic box. Sixteen in the morning slot, four at noon, two at four, and ten at bedtime, except on Sundays, eleven. Dour Deb tells about her nephew who won about a dozen goldfish at the fair and named each one for a different GI Joe Man. He could tell them all apart. Eelie had a goldfish once. When it died, he tried to blow air into its mouth to revive it. I mention my first cousin, a nurse for animals, who married a pig farmer and gave artificial respiration to a pig. Giggles again. Deb says pigs are cleaner than people realize. Much cleaner than chickens. For example. Eelie allows his Mama would agree. Chickens are the dirtiest. Mama wouldn’t let no animal in the house, period. Mama kept a wash pan, with soap, at the back door, and insisted it be used before coming inside.

Ann Neuser Lederer was born in Ohio and has lived and worked in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Her poems and nonfiction appear in journals such as Diagram, Brevity, and XConnect; anthologies such as Bedside Guide, Best of the Net, and The Country Doctor Revisited; and chapbooks Approaching Freeze, The Undifferentiated, and Weaning the Babies.