The Pattern of Little Alice
by Polly Joan
as set to music by Leonard Lehrman, op. 44
under the title "Little Alice of Amherst Ohio"
Copyright 1978

She is Alice from Amherst, Ohio
She worked in her father's store
She weighed the cheese
She tried to please
Everyone in town knew Alice

One day she fished for a pickle
and pulled up a rat instead
She screamed inside
and the fear she hide
never could after that eat pickles
or empty mousetraps
could Alice
brown-eyed Alice
little Alice

She was very good at the piano
could have played on the stage
but she earned her way
at the Saturday matinee
background for Valentino

She was valedictorian
Her town was proud
as proud they say as Alice
who sitting tall on her seat
and churning buttoned feet
bicycled off to college
where she shingled her hair
for a fashionable flair
saved the tresses in a box
with tissue paper care
they still lie there
a little tail
from little Alice

She majored in English
taught school for a year
wanted to write a book
did the Charleston in red
married a preacher's kid whose head
was bent on being a doctor

Little Alice from Amherst had two little girls
who kept her very busy
she played them to sleep
on a black upright she keep
a luxury
or a bedtime ritual

After seventeen years her man went away
He wanted to be free
still wanted that M.D.
Alice screamed
let me be
just Alice
She spent one long night burning those letters of love
taught piano
taught English in the public schools
twenty years standing in high-heeled shoes
little Alice always wore red

She got rheumatoid in her fingers
tuned the piano every year
grew Irish bells
dried yellow yarrow
put daisies in a brown earthen jar
little Alice
my mother
has diaries
I can read
I am told
when she's dead

recorded by Helene Williams on Songs of Conscience
cassette 3/91; re-issued on CD, 6/03

[posted online at:]

View Polly Joan's website at