The Little Girl – a poem by John Ian Bush


Part One


Aunt Margret is dead.

She’s dead with FDR, apple pie, the gold standard, and so on, at age seventy-three.

She died a child mind in the worn body of an old woman.

She died and left no children, but a staggering collection for porcelain dolls and stuffed animals that she bought in her younger years for when she finally had kids.

Now each doll and each animal have a name and a place on the bed or couch.

She’s dead and the only Earthly possessions she’s left behind are old movie posters and framed head shots of old movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and Rock Hudson and John Wayne and James Dean and so on and decorative plates of MLK and JFK and his kid brother.

Oh, yes, she’s dead.

She is dead and she’s left her lonely sad puppy nervous wreck of a husband, Jim, to crying over her cold husk in the casket.

He kissed her cold dead blue soft breathless lips.

He ran his brittle white shacking fingers through her dead gray hair.

“Oh, my little girl is dead! She’s dead! Oh, my little girl is dead,” he cried.

That’s what he called her, his little girl.

“Oh, she’s dead! Oh, she’s dead!”

In the coffee room, we all talked about the body.

“She looked so natural.”

Yes, oh, yes.

“She’s at peace now, you can see that on her face.”

Yes, oh, yes.

“She was a God fearing woman.”

Yes, oh, yes.

“She’s in Heaven now. She ought to be mourning us, you know. Don’t pity the dead.”

Yes, oh, yes.

“She’s in Heaven now laughing with Elvis and Jesus.”

If there’s anything she loved it was Elvis and Jesus.

Yes, oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes.



Part Two


Oh, sweet little old Margret.

She’d fed the stray cats before she’d eat herself.

“They’re hungrier than I am,” she’d say.

And she was proud to be an American.

Yes, oh, yes.

She loved Ronald Reagan, both as a president and as a cowboy.

And she wondered if the chimp had a room in the White House.

Is there a bedtime for Bonzo?

Oh, and she wouldn’t let you leave her house without a hug.

She’s stare you in the eyes and say, “I love you,” and she meant it.

She probably loved everybody.

She’d probably kiss a stranger on the lips.

Now she’s left a loveless slab of meat surrounded by flowers.


Part Three


Oh, Holy God, there is a Heaven!

Yes, oh, yes!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Great big castles and gold streets, just like the book said!

Everyone is there!

Elvis, Jesus, FDR, MLK, JFK and Bobby too, Ronald Reagan and good old Bonzo, who doesn’t have a bedtime, and James Dean and John Wayne and Rock Hudson and  Marilyn Monroe, and, finally, Aunt Margret.

There in Heaven there are children for her dolls and animals.

There in Heaven, the strays are always fed.

There in Heaven nobody’s a stranger and everybody kisses everybody on the lips.

And there in Heaven, nobody ever says good bye to anyone without hugging them and looking them in the eyes and saying, “I love you,” and meaning it.


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Modernist writer and poet.