Remembering Carla, J.S. Absher

Michael Diehl, Alone



Remembering Carla


She sang in church and in college halls,
full of vibrato. After she died, whoever
recalled her youth smiled to hear again
her singing tremolo inside their heads.
She spoke in vibrato, too, a quaver
timid and stubborn; left home less and less,
and after the pandemic, never.

Her doctor died but no one thought to tell.
Sick, she dithered. Then it was too late.
What she most wanted, what she most feared
was happening—the cancer was too far gone
and she was going. Mostly she slept,
was sleeping the one time we visited.
Our cards were under her pillow, they said,

she was going to read them all again,
but the current ran too fast and rough.
Painkillers smoothed it out, a child’s ride
at the waterpark. She gave herself to it.
I won’t try to grab the sides! A deep soft
pool is waiting, and my Charles waits
with a warm, thick towel to dry me off.

J.S. Absher


Review by Sue Fagalde Lick

As a lifelong choir singer, hopefully without the vibrato, I can identify with this poem. I’m drawn in by the details, so real, so palpable. The vibrato, the quaver in her voice, the contrast of timid and stubborn, the reality of being sick and dithering over whether or not to see a doctor. I love the cards under the pillow and the surprise of the waterpark ride as a way to give in to death. The form is simple, nothing to distract the reader from the content and from Carla, who is someone I would like to know.


Review by Steve Cushman

In Remembering Carla, Absher offers us a tender portrait of a friend’s decline.  So well crafted where at the beginning she is singing with Bravado and then by the end she is somewhat delirious, or perhaps resigned to the idea that her time in this world is over and it’s the next that holds the promise of hope.  This could be overdone and trite, but Absher masterfully pulls it off here.


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