“my back is killing me”
she squints at Pop     her tumble down
the stairs years ago     her crumbling vertebrae
the cycle begins there     each day just barely
    drags into the five-minute mark      
the agonizing revert: “my back is killing me” 
but her decay     still can’t scare off
Pop’s soft smile     and he sighs
responds to her questions     as if hearing
     them for the first time

          I twist my hips into
the clay-colored couch          deep breath    
    “Grammie, how is your puzzle?”
She shrugs     meanders through the
ashen pieces scattered across her tv tray     
    jumbled jigsaw fragments     
craving wholeness     such simple
sobering ironies      across the room
Pop sips from his mug     
    reading thoughtfully    

     conundrum of her modest world
cast before her     I look for Pop
among the pieces     his early twenties
    she used to describe:
“greased hair and pearly tee, disgruntled box
of Lucky Strikes nestled in his sleeve”     
then I look for the infamous math teacher
of Los Alamos High     don’t you dare
    chew gum in her class

but today     she looks for a corner piece
and Pop keeps reading     I catch him
peering over his devotion     smile still
tugging his lips      Pop wanders over
Grammie’s eyes raise from her lap
   “Bev, can I get you some lunch”
And my insides shatter
   “Have you seen my husband”   

My name is LOREN “BUDDY” O’DELL and I am from Columbia City, Indiana.  I am currently pursuing a degree in Sport Coaching and Education with a minor in English.  Ever since transferring to the University of Southern Mississippi before my junior year, I have been involved with the football team in various roles and I look forward to what the future has in store for me.