15 March 2016

A Letter to Miss Crofut


To: Jane Crofut;
The Crofut Farm;
Grover’s Corners;
Sutton County;
New Hampshire;
United States of America;
Continent of North America;
Western Hemisphere;
The Earth;
The Solar System;
The Universe;
The Mind of God.1

May 7, 1901
My dear Miss Crofut,
I hope your health is improving.
It’s a shame to be marooned abed
With the weather like this!
But don’t expect it to last, my dear
It is that time of year, after all.

We missed you last Sunday.
Everyone was asking
Where you were.
Mrs. Stetson gives her regards
And also the little one—Lucy.
She adores you, you know.

I preached today on Exodus
Chapter 16, verse 3.
The Israelites are hungry
And say to Moses,
“If only the Lord
Had killed us back in Egypt!
There we ate all the food we wanted
But now you have brought us into this desert
To starve us all to death.”
Poor blighters. They never learn, do they?
I sometimes wonder, Miss Crofut:
Do humans ever really want freedom?

Oliver died yesterday.
Not much of a shock to any of us
He was getting old anyway.
Gina—my youngest—wanted a formal funeral
“He’s goin’ to heaven, Dadda
Animals are human too, you know!”
Oh Gina.
I’m sorry you never had the chance
To see him
Before he passed away
I know you loved the old fellow.

Gina asked me, “Dadda,
Why do dogs
Live so much shorter
Than humans?”
I told her, of course
“Because God
Made them that way, dearest.”
Gina asked me, “Why?”
To be frank, Miss Crofut
I don’t reckon I ever asked why
But I gave it a hard think
And this is what I told her:

“I reckon
He made them that way
To remind us
That nobody lives forever.”

The tulips are blooming again
I mailed some to you
They’re probably withered
But Esther insisted.

Sincerely,
Rev. Roland

P.S.
I suppose you have heard by now
That Annie Leston and Sam Crowell
Are engaged!
The date
Has not been announced yet.






[1] Thornton Wilder, “Our Town” Act I p.46

03 March 2016

Lady Beauty Part II: Unquiet Darkness

"My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream." -Robert Burns, "Sweet Afton"



Frankly, I was dreading company
The day she came to my door
My pedantic thoughts were banished
The day she came to my door
It was neither the neighbor nor the phone company
The day she came to my door
It was the Girl with the Curly Hair.

We pretended to watch a movie
I did most of the laughing
We pretended to play a board game
I did most of the playing
She never mentions him
Now she’s crying again
Getting my shirt all wet
I did nothing.
I said nothing.

She said she doesn’t feel
Like playing games anymore, and
Would it be alright
If she just lay her head down
Like this, on my lap?

She closed her eyes, I stroked her hair.
Did she straighten it?
Or has she been curling it all along?
It’s different than I remember
Or maybe I never really looked
She never mentions him.

But I know that this
Must be
What he used to do
Who
Does she think I am?

And yet
To see her eyelids tremble thus
My pedantic thoughts were banished
One cannot help but shudder
At the brush of unquiet darkness
And misery, like water
Knows no other path
So she came to my door.




***




Time pays no heed
To the permeable quietude of grief
And my heart beats to the inescapable rhythm
Pleading
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream

Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream