Pamela Sumners

A Lady Has Passed in Nacogdoches, Texas
by Pamela Sumners

A lady with five names and none representing ex-husbands
because she was a lady, has passed in Nacogdoches, Texas,
which you should know is pronounced like your toes in
Corpus Christi sand, not like the slap-and-dash verbal clip
of a Cajun syllable-slipping mouth, which lives in the
other Natchitoches, the Louisiana bayou, slippery-tongued
one. This lady was sleek, not slippery, although she had
a law degree her obituary barely skimmed, like an armadillo
curled into a ball so you don’t see it in passing. This lady
went to what was then a finishing school, a place that would
be bankrupted by ladies’ husbands giving to their alma maters
after they picked the finest blooms twining the old iron gates
there even though they had four names to start and his name
was just the fifth. She loved the larkspur on her campus and
when she came back home to take on her fifth name she threw
herself into hedges of primrose and she loved her Cape Jasmine.

She liked her bridge club, liked the Heritage Society, shared
family recipes for the Junior League cookbook and bought the
pound cakes the little old black ladies with their church hats
made and sold to help the sick, the poor, the elderly. She was
a Colonial Dame, a Daughter of the American Revolution, and
had a curious masonic pin that looked nothing like her sorority
pin (she was a Theta, which you should know is Kappa Alpha,
as you should know all the best Southern girls are and always
will be), and she kept all her girlhood friends, who outlived her.

Her pallbearers were obit-announced as though in a bridal notice,
all of them nephews and grandsons of parishioners at her Christ
Episcopal. Each one on them, from Phi Delt to Sig Ep, urges you
to remember she knew her flowers and the right symbolic bloom
for any occasion. Anything you sent by way of remembrance would
never boast the hardiness of her Cape Jasmine, would not persist
as she did, so you are kindly asked, in lieu of flowers, to note her love
of traditional things. Please give, in her memory, to the charities of
East Texas, Nacogdoches, the Society for the Preservation of the Book
of Common Prayer, up in the Northeast somewhere where buds are sparse
and common prayer, in grave danger, must be preserved for history,

and don’t forget to tend your own camellias, which should be pretty
this year, and the azaleas, too—especially the blazing tangerine-hued
ones, and please plant a laceleaf maple in the old pasture where she
and a long-dead sorrel mare called Belle Starr used to ride at dusk.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 2.

Pamela SumnersPamela Sumners’s work has been published or recognized by about 40 journals or publishing houses in the US and abroad since 2018. She was a 2018 Pushcart nominee and was selected by Halcyone/Black Mountain Press for inclusion in 64 Best Poets of 2018 and 2019. Her first poetry collection, Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones, was published by UnCollected Press in December 2020. Finding Helen, winner of the Rane Arroyo Prize from Seven Kitchens Press, will be released in Spring 2021.

See all items about Pamela Sumners

Visit Pamela Sumners’s contributors page.

Leave a Reply