The Valley-Hum Orphans.


The snow was a foot deep, maybe two,

the streets unplowed,

So still.

Houses stood close together, and shuttered,

sidewalks were buried,

the sky empty.

As she made her way to work,

I followed her black boots

in my snowsuit, in my little red buckled boots,

Hurried, as best I could, climbed,

I meant to

get ahead of her

because her white stockings

were sure to be soaked,

her feet cold,

by the time she arrived.

I couldn’t overtake,

and she was unaware.

I was a mere trudgling, there.

I called up the path:


but she did not turn,

she did not pause.

The tall dark elm trees

were frosted,

all along,

as far as I could see


black boots

mere specks on the trampled snow.

I left her at the hospital,

but no one knew.

I was but a small shadow

in the winter streets.

I had meant to blaze a trail,

but only my little fingertips burned,

my feet I could not feel

by the time I got home.

What does she have?

I asked my aunt,

With her fuzzy hair

and cigarette,

with her cat-eye glasses

and red lips.

What sickness? I implored.

“It is called Valium,” said she,

in a puff of smoke.

It was a disease of which I

had never heard, so I prayed

that first it was not fatal,

that soon she would be well

and with us again,

and then that it was not contagious,

that a whole hospital

would not become sicker

on her account,

though the sick treating the sick

seemed strange,

to me.

There was some satisfaction

in knowing this,

this truth,

this enlightenment:

Ah, so it is explained,


Why she is so distant!

It is so that we her children

do not catch it,

do not catch the dreaded valley-hum disease.

I was comforted by this knowledge–

we all take what we can get, after all–

hugging myself with my own little arms.

I found winter to be

considerably colder,

without parents.



13 Comments on “The Valley-Hum Orphans.”

  1. robincoyle says:

    Oh, how sad. Sigh.

  2. terry1954 says:

    that was beautiful. thank u for sharing with me

  3. Oh Lily, 😦 you’re going to kill me with this. So powerful. You succeeded in speaking with the voice of a child, which is so hard to do as an adult. Amazing!!

    • lily2u1 says:

      Well, at least contrast is good in a life. I am not sure about the voice; I only know that I feel it and see it from a child’s point of view. Thank you. Your sensitivity is always welcome, here.
      ~ Lily

  4. cynthia says:

    I agree with Random Hearts- It takes a special talent to reach into yourself and bring the voice of the child out..Written perfectly! Excellent Poetry

  5. free penny press says:

    The child needs a voice too..
    wonderfully expressed here Lily..

  6. lily2u1 says:

    Thanks, Lynne. : )
    ~ Lily

  7. Beautifully written, Lily…and oh, so sad….

  8. janinevasta says:

    Lily, I love the way you not only perfectly conjure the child (that beautiful shining genius child) but the times as well. Your talent for detail is captivating. Brava. Jxx

    • lily2u1 says:

      Thank you. Your comments stun me, sometimes. Actually, a lot of these comments here stun me. Sheesh, what happened to that child, huh?! I had actually wondered if I had enough detail– this would be so easy to expand because I still see it so clearly– but I thought I’d better hold off on writing an epic like Beowolf! I am a fiction/short-story writer, by training, so I often put stories in poem form, I think. I’m kind of just playing with themes, forms, stories. I’ll have to do some serious editing and refining, one of these days.
      How are you, Janine??
      ~ Lily

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s