01 August 2013

Elise

There once was a widow
Who spent what she earned
On one boy and three little girls
She went into town to buy some bread dough
And the widow never returned

No one gave a damn for her family
Or the debts that she had to meet
There was Michael, Renae, and little Margie
And the eldest one's name was Elise

Elise was thirteen when the widow left for bread
And the farm was her own to run
For the widow once said "Oh Elise, when I'm dead
Take care of the younger ones."

To the girls she said with trembling lips
That Momma had gone on a very long trip
But Michael had outgrown the fortunes of youth
To him Elise told the truth

Her soul was serene for a girl of thirteen
Her spirit was fierce as a bear
Pushing the plough and milking the cow
And brushing little Margie's hair

She kept in the heat and she kept the house neat
She was the queen of absolutes
When Michael came in, she said "Take off those boots
And wipe off those filthy feet."

And when Renae cried
She sang lullabies
The songs of her mother before
Till the tears crystalized
In her tired grey eyes
And Elise fell asleep on the floor

No one gave a damn for her family
Or the debts that she had to meet
Before the sunlight poured in
She was at it again
The virgin mother of three
 

She was a simple mind, and left no one behind
When the economy forced them to run
She just shook her head, for her mother had said
"Take care of the younger ones."

She was the same woman still
When they reached Hooverville
To the children who had lost their homes
For now she realized that her mother's demise
Did not just apply to her own

Well the widow never mentioned
This unplanned extension
Of whose mother Elise would become
Elise shook her head, for her mother only said
"Take care of the younger ones."

She fed and she washed and she cleaned
Just like she did at thirteen
When she raised Michael, Renae, and Margie at four
Though now she raised twenty-three more

Word spread far of the young maiden
With gold hair and twinkling grey eyes
Who looked after all the children
Whose courage was love in disguise

She was nineteen when he entered the scene
Awakening her with desire
She never dismissed her mother's last wish
But her heart still had room for a lover

Said Jack, "Elise, I've watched you
I've seen no one like you before
If you can love twenty-seven
Do you think you could love one more?"

Said Elise,"Dear Jack, as sure as the sun
Of course I can do it again
If I can be the virgin mother of twenty-seven
I can be the mother of one."

Elise remembered the words of the widow
"Take care of the younger ones."
But twenty-eight was one too many
And she died giving birth to her son

I know that by the strength of her life
She would have raised me well
She would have made a wonderful wife
If death hadn't rung his knell

Long before the war had ended
A greater battle was won
A thirteen year old had so bravely contended
To take care of the younger ones.


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