Today at dVerse Poetics, Karin Gustafson invites us to write about the color green. This is a very rough draft of a poem I’d started years ago and never knew what to do with it. The rhyme and scansion are atrocious, but I submit it as is, for now, for the message. “Annie” is a composite of two patients I cared for in a nursing facility–both named Annie. There is some truth, some fiction to the story. If you are so inclined, let me know in comments what you see as the underlying message.


Annie—her name, as I recall.
Trouble dogged her through life.
A sad life, on the streets,
they whispered in the hall.

Her son wasn’t “normal,”
or so they reported.
Who knows who’s his daddy?
an old wag retorted.

She spoke not a word,
only stared out the window;
took meals in her room
so we nurses conferred.

Couldn’t get her to change,
to emerge from the hurt
of a life of abuse,
from her choices so strange.

Then one day in November
she made this request,
“My green bathrobe,” she begged,
“It will help me remember.”

I searched through her closet,
found nothing resembling
the color she wanted,
on hangers, in boxes.

That night after work
I stopped by the mall,
found just one jade-green robe
that I took to the clerk.

In the morning, her eyes
lit the room, and her smile—
made it all so worthwhile,
a delightful surprise.

Late that night, she expired,
they called me to see,
her hands held the fabric
the green she required.

That robe was her shroud
and a photo I’d found
in her fingers I placed
of a woman so proud.

A green robe she wore,
in her arms was a baby,
That one thing she cherished,
the child she bore.

No one knows the story
of the life that she chose,
but the wearing of green
was her peace and her glory.


22 thoughts on “Annie

  1. janehewey says:

    a touching poem, and beautifully penned. You have me thinking about the many things we don’t know about each other. Unless said aloud, the green robe would have gone un-known. Thank you for this, Victoria.


  2. Akila says:

    very very touching….loved the play of the word green in this…She found peace at last!


  3. Renee Espriu says:

    How touching and poignant a write, Victoria. Sometimes it only take one smal thing to trigger a memory , to make a connection, to give one peace.


  4. souldipper says:

    And doesn’t that simply moosh my heart into a soppy sponge?! This pulls the strings on a number of emotions, Victoria. What a story one can conjure, but no matter how much fiction there is in your poem, I’m so glad your heart brought her the green robe!


  5. Very sensitive, sad and yet sweet. Reminds me of some of the dear ladies I know in the nursing/rehab facility where I work, the stories they hold onto. Glad you shared 🙂


  6. Truedessa says:

    Hi, This was so sad and touching as I felt her journey in a robe of green she now dreams on the other side.


  7. vivinfrance says:

    A tearful read of a poignant story – I would love to have you nursing me -, your kindness glows.


  8. Myrna says:

    What a touching story. I’m so glad you were sensitive enough to buy her that robe, which made her transition easier.


  9. Such a tender exploration into the soul of another…


  10. Mary says:

    You took her request seriously. Bless you! You looked at her as a person, did not judge her by her past or what people said about her. You treated her kindly and made her wish come true. The green robe to me symbolized a pleasant time in her past. She wanted to revisit this time before she died. She did, thanks to you, and now she was ready… go….happily with her memories.


  11. Yes, this moved me to tears. A green shroud really a great take on the prompt. I must say this is the best piece I’ve read in a long time.


  12. Grace says:

    This is very touching ~ That she chose to go, with a green robe, holding a precious memory of her child, is very meaningful ~ There is peace and a closure to a life of emptiness and abuse ~ Beautiful piece, Victoria ~


  13. Sabio Lantz says:

    Very touching — thank you for sharing.


  14. kkkkaty says:

    I commend you for writing about her…each patient must touch your soul, but this story is so fitting for today’s post as well as a human note in time..


  15. Kelvin S.M. says:

    …pain expires along with life but memories are made immortalized… we only suffer once and the rest is infinite happiness… she has fulfilled her job in raising a babe and be a mother… and though it wasn’t all perfect her love was enough to fill the missing… if God has extended our life it doesn’t mean we needed it… but rather someone else somewhere still needs us to stay… if God wanted us to go back to him and take this life.. it could only mean our mission is almost fulfilled and the He trusts & believes in those whom we’ve cared, loved & left behind… that they can make it through life even without our presence… smiles… a very affecting & touching piece ma’am… smiles…


  16. claudia says:

    oh heck victoria…this moved me to tears…really glad that you helped her find the peace she was so longing for…


  17. Rowan Taw says:

    For me the poem speaks of the shared experience of love. Someone can seem so different from us that it can be hard to make sense of their life, but then there’s love, which affects/infects us all regardless of these differences.


  18. Lovely storytelling verses here and how well you craft them. I like how you used green as an object and avoided the obvious. Every time I see a green robe I’m sure I’ll remember this poem and the woman longing for the child long grown. Vibrant and moving, well done.


  19. Victoria-=-maybe you aren’t happy with this, but there is something beautiful and real shining through here–your soul.


  20. Laurie Kolp says:

    Fanning away the tears here… so sad, but aren’t you glad you bought the green robe for her?


  21. brian miller says:

    mmm…sad…makes me think she misses that baby girl that once brought her such happiness…maybe she was waiting on her…and hoping she could get the circumstances right by going back to that one time she knew for certain she was happy…in a green robe…really a moving piece victoria…


  22. ManicDdaily says:

    Ouch. Very sad. It is so hard to make peace with ourselves, much less the world. (That last sentence could probably be reversed and be just as true.) And the message, I think==oddly, as much as we want to be taken care of, the ones we love with great intensity and pride are those we take care of – the nurse loving the patient, the patient loving the child–thanks for participating, Victoria. k.


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