We Don’t Have to Live Great Lives…


photo by Heidi Stemple


Oppressed by pillows:

held down by fluff, snuggles from

above and below


I understand weight-

survive to slither forward,

arch my back and reach


Andre Dubus

born in Lake Charles, Louisiana (1936) wrote stories about regular people like bartenders, mechanics, and waitresses in collections such as The Cage Keeper and Other Stories (1989) and Dancing After Hours (1996). In 1986, after publishing several books of short stories, Dubus stopped to help a woman and a man stranded on the side of the highway, and he was hit by a passing car. He saved the woman’s life by throwing her out of the way, but he lost one of his legs and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He said, “Some of my characters now feel more grateful about simple things — breathing, buying groceries, sunlight — because I do.” He also said, “We don’t have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we’ve got.”


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