Dust rises from the land, heat melts the sky,
The weight of noon descends. I shield my face
Under my handís cool shadow. Blue July
Burns slowly. Hollyhocks and Queen Anneís lace
Droop near the garden where my gift was sown
After the late Spring snow had drawn away
Its last white veil. Iíve driven up alone,
Wondering if my seeds survived the grey
March cold, to win the race
That led them here to blossom, wilt, and die.
No trees protect your garden. No kind shade
Caresses, as the sun begins to boil
The sweet dew from the grass. Your peace was made,
Old peasant woman, wedded to the soil,
Before I knew you, long before I came
To hear your story, through a daughterís tears.
The little roadside farm that lets your name
Live on, throughout slow zodiacs of years,
Preserves what time canít spoil
In memoryís frame. How could time ever fade
The Baltic sunsetís jagged ruby glow
Cast on a girl who drank the knifelike air,
Sat on her feet to warm them in the snow,
And pulled her shawl around her bloody hair?
What human hand could strike a blow that cruel
And make your sad face even sadder? How
Could you have been a child? Your only school
Was cruelty. Do you understand it now?
Or have you journeyed where
Forgetfulness is all Love will allow?
I picture you, arriving with the rose,
Uncertain, since your first step off the pier,
Wishing your shawl could hide your broken nose,
And wondering, ďWill they even want me here?Ē
Cathedral glass lifts breezes to the Light
Above a thousand gaudy flowers, while
The goatís skull by the toolshed grins, stark white ó
Blood upon blood to win that bleaching smile.
It holds all you could tell,
And sings me ashes, ashes, all is well.
© 2004 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be copied or used in any way without written permission from the author.