Aunt Vera / For N.T.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman

Aunt Vera seemed frail while I was growing up.
Every year, she had colds and laryngitis.
She could not swim.
She had allergies;
She could not enter our cat-filled home.
But, when I moved back to New Hampshire
After my divorce,
I saw that my parents were aging;
Aunt Vera was not.
With a scarf over her gray hair,
She could pass for thirty-five.
For so long she was young, but now she is old.
Her hair is white.
Her eyes are cloudy.
Her face is lined.
Her fingers are gnarled.
She looks every day of eighty.
She is ninety-six.


The path to joy is faith in God,
The young man told his friend.
His joy was plain upon his face;
He’d no wish to offend.
All night they talked, and, on the morn,
When day flared bright and hot,
He shook her hand and wished her well
And set out on his yacht.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman

Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University. Her poems have appeared in FREE INQUIRY (February/March 2008), as well as in The Providence Journal, English Studies Forum, and elsewhere. She is a lifelong atheist. Judaism was available in her family on a take-it-orleave- it basis, and she left it.


Aunt Vera seemed frail while I was growing up. Every year, she had colds and laryngitis. She could not swim. She had allergies; She could not enter our cat-filled home. But, when I moved back to New Hampshire After my divorce, I saw that my parents were aging; Aunt Vera was not. With a scarf …

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