Cleaning out her grandmother’s home
she found only one mirror.
Hidden in the back of a drawer
buried under delicate handkerchiefs.
Some with embroidered flowers,
others with faded tatted edging.
It had multiple cracks
but the maple handle’s patina
still glowed.

The bouquet began drooping days ago.
Calla lily bodies downed,
long stems succumbed to gravity.
Sunflower heads
ruffled edges turning brown,
faces no longer meet the eye.
Nearby, on oak sidebar,
shriveled pink-veined orchid petals
ready to fall.

Retreated to their tents
they sleep encased in sleeping bags.
Bought on sale,
blue cloth on the outside.
Inside, cowboys ride horses,
stand with guns holstered by cacti.
Childlike Western print
on bright yellow flannel.
Embers pale in campfire ash.

Gathered for their fiftieth
they take the tour,
campus now lush with trees.
Three-story new student center
sports three dining options,
baristas in the Coffee Corner.
Library tables barren, minus green
Readers’ Guides to Periodical Literature.
Fossils still displayed in the Geology Museum.

Scientist by training, environmentalist by trade,
he took over cooking after retirement.
Meticulous shopping lists.
Weekly menu spreadsheets.
One recipe covers two nights.
Red aproned
in black and white tiled galley kitchen.
Meal cooked, served, eaten.
Leftovers stored for another day.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Bjorn asks us to write a Cadralor. This is a relatively new poetry form. It is comprised of five unrelated, highly-visual stanzas. Each stanza must stand alone as a poem. Stanzas should be fewer than ten lines and usually each stanza has the same number of lines. Imagery is crucial – each stanza should be like a scene or a photograph. The fifth stanza is the crucible and should answer the question “For what do you yearn?” In the case of Remainders, I’m emphasizing that the leftovers, in each of the stanzas, has or has had value. In the last stanza, leftovers is taken literally.

36 thoughts on “Remainders

  1. Pleasant Street October 7, 2021 / 12:08 pm

    I love this new poetry form. Reading this was like getting to know the grandmother. I was reminded of all the times I spent sitting on the floor rifling through my mother’s cedar chest.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) October 7, 2021 / 2:47 pm

    I love all the images, and though all the poems draw a separate conclusion, I can follow a life’s story. The conclusion to me is like the satisfaction of a couple living a new life filled with all the impressions from the past… really good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian October 7, 2021 / 4:11 pm

      Thank you, Bjorn. I must admit….the journal saying the 5th stanza should answer the question “What do you yearn for?” really threw me for a loop. I did enjoy doing this. Wish I’d given it a different title and not written about “leftovers” as an explanation. I should have left it subtle which would have been more true to the form. Just was afraid people wouldn’t catch the “thread.”


  3. Ingrid October 7, 2021 / 3:06 pm

    I love how you’ve woven the thread of leftovers into each stanza, and how they contrast and compliment one another beautifully. I also like the idea of a man who approaches the weekly cooking in such an organised manner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 7, 2021 / 4:12 pm

      Hah! That really is my husband in the last stanza. He literally took over the kitchen when he rejuvenated (never say retired).

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ingrid October 8, 2021 / 1:49 am

        No wonder your marriage has lasted so long 😊


  4. Laura Bloomsbury October 7, 2021 / 3:11 pm

    My goodness Lillian this was such a great read and re-read. Each stanza a simpatico event drawn together at the end like settling down into an old comfy sofa

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian October 7, 2021 / 4:14 pm

      Oh Laura, you made my day. I wish now I had titled it differently and not put the explanation about leftovers at the end. I think the form is supposed to be subtle in the tying together and I should have trusted my words to do that rather than the title or the explanation at the end. C’es la vie!


      • Laura Bloomsbury October 7, 2021 / 4:38 pm

        I had not read your explanation – and there is always the edit button – now or later!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. merrildsmith October 7, 2021 / 3:16 pm

    This was lovely, Lillian. I felt like I was following this couple and seeing vignettes of their life. I like how leftovers is carried through.

    Some of the examples I’ve read did not seem so explicit, so I modeled mine that way, but I like the way yours holds together.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian October 7, 2021 / 3:29 pm

      Hi Merril: I’m wondering if I’d used a different title for the poem and eliminated my explanatory comments about leftovers at the end, if it would have been less explicit then? I was worried folks wouldn’t catch the thread so maybe it then became too obvious?

      Liked by 1 person

      • merrildsmith October 7, 2021 / 3:45 pm

        I’m not sure if you meant to reply to me or to Ingrid, but I don’t know. I don’t always get the connection in the Cadralors that I’ve read. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  6. sanaarizvi October 7, 2021 / 3:25 pm

    This is incredibly poignant, Lillian 🙂 I especially love; “Retreated to their tents they sleep encased in sleeping bags. Bought on sale, blue cloth on the outside. Inside, cowboys ride horses, stand with guns holstered by cacti. Childlike Western print on bright yellow flannel. Embers pale in campfire ash.” You rocked the prompt 💝💝

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian October 7, 2021 / 3:27 pm

      Thank you, Sanaa. Actually, eons ago, fresh out of college in 1969, my husband bought us sleeping bags on sale as we planned to camp a lot. They actually were blue on the outside with a cowboy print on yellow flannel inside. I expect that’s why they were on sale! 🙂
      Glad you enjoyed this one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sanaarizvi October 7, 2021 / 5:29 pm

        You’re most welcome! 💝💝


    • lillian October 7, 2021 / 4:17 pm

      Thank you, Ken. A tricky form for me but I always enjoy the challenges at dVerse!


  7. calmkate October 7, 2021 / 4:18 pm

    feel like I’ve just peeked into your family photo album, the personal imagery unfolded to a fitting reveal!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. lillian October 7, 2021 / 4:26 pm

    Hah….the first and second stanza are purely fictional. And then somehow I my mind meandered into my world….so yes. There’s some reveal in those last three stanzas.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tricia Sankey October 7, 2021 / 5:48 pm

    I loved the image of “shriveled pink-veined orchid petals ready to fall.” Each stanza is so poetic and adds to the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Grace October 7, 2021 / 7:02 pm

    Good remainders of a family’s journey Lillian. I enjoyed the imagery per stanza.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gillena Cox October 7, 2021 / 7:11 pm

    Luv the richly sourced imagery throughout. The end verse ties all the loose theads in a vary effective continuation


    Liked by 1 person

  12. lynn__ October 8, 2021 / 10:56 am

    I adore what you did with the form, Lillian…leftovers can be the BEST!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. WildChild47 October 8, 2021 / 11:48 am

    Each stanza is richly evocative – and works as a single unit but also within the broader framework of the form. I don’t think you need the explanation post-opt-prompt; I think the readers can make draw their own conclusion quite clearly – but that’s not really a big deal as such, right? The poetry is the shining star here – so it’s all good. But I have to note: I think after doing the work, it became rather difficult to figure out a title – yes? I know I had trouble with that and the 5th stanza also was a bit more of a challenge to write; this being said, I think you did it marvelously – and I really like the tone and pacing, the feel of your closing – it speaks to me of how order comes marching in, after a life earned and how time suddenly is blown wide open – filled with possibilities, yes, but it can also be rather daunting too.

    At any rate, well done – lovely piece – and wow, I have to say, if there was one line I absolutely loved it was this one:
    shriveled pink-veined orchid petals
    ready to fall.

    this painted such a beautiful picture, not only of the flowers, but it made me think of an aging hand, its fragility, especially near death etc. And oh, I swear, I could smell Lemon furniture polish while reading this, it’s so full and suggestive – memories spilling out in the details, the scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Helen Dehner October 8, 2021 / 1:55 pm

    Lillian, I simply sank into each stanza, memories flooding my mind. How lovely your poem, how very lovely.


  15. Dora October 8, 2021 / 1:59 pm

    A moving read, Lillian, like thumbing through photographs with the joy of remembering, knowing what remains is made more valuable by it. I’m so glad this is nothing like what remains in Ishiguro’s novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. robtkistner October 8, 2021 / 2:37 pm

    Engaging LILLIAN. i do not understab Understand this form at all but you seem to well written. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. pvcann October 8, 2021 / 9:01 pm

    Love this Lilian, and the last stanza resonates strongly.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Xan October 9, 2021 / 10:31 am

    I love the time journey here, and how it folds back on itself. You’re not quite sure in the end, if it’s the old couple’s grandchildren going through their things, or if it’s their own memory.

    Liked by 1 person

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