Her side of the family had old fashioned names—
Caddus, Philander, Latitia, Ruby June—and hers

was one my great grandmother dreamed up.
Maizelle owned and ran The Q-Spot,

a greasy spoon with pool and foosball tables,
and people loved the place so much

she had to get a liquor license to keep parents
from sending kids there after school.

A hundred kinfolk came to the reunion
she hosted every August, when she deep fried

catfish her children caught in a nearby lake.
She and her eight siblings would stay up

most of the night singing and telling stories
and playing card games like “Spite and Malice,”

then get up and make biscuits and gravy.
Maizelle lost her first husband to cancer

and her first granddaughter to a gun,
so grief slowed her down, but nothing

stopped her. Her second husband, Stretch,
had been a relief pitcher for the White Sox,

and they went to ballgames all over the country.
A few months before she died, at ninety-eight,

Maizelle told me, “Something of the best that life
has to offer is in each day. Our job is to savor it.”

about the author
The poetry of David Lee Garrison has appeared nationwide in journals and anthologies, and two poems from his book Sweeping the Cemetery were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. The title poem from his Playing Bach in the DC Metro was featured by Ted Kooser on his website, American Life in Poetry, and read on the BBC radio program, “Words and Music.”