Guest Voices

Before and After

Reni Lazarov


I  remember a photo of Ima in Sofia.

A beauty to behold,

Striking a movie star pose.


Her crisp school uniform is long gone.

The faded flannel nightgown is worn.


I try to convince, not knowing how to begin.

It’s worth getting up,

It’s worth getting out of bed,

Getting dressed.


It’s not so bad, I plead.

It could be worse, I lie.


She smiles, looking into my eyes.

I’m grateful,

She forgives my lies.


March 9, 1996