The Water-Widow

He didn’t leave me money enough to go away.
I suppose they call him a fool for that in the town,
Even more than for the drink, but I don’t mind so much.
I did at first, of course. I raged and raved
At the water that took him, the water
He never put in his whiskey, the water
I’ve had to look at every day.

But I’ll tell you a secret: He’s still here.

Now, I don’t mean he’s still alive, of course.
The wagon is gone, the horses drowned
And him with them. I know that just as well
As I know what was in the box we buried in June.

But he’s here even though.

It’s his voice I hear from the water, sure enough,
Calling me his Sweet Maudie like he did
When he was courting me.
And those horses, snorting and stamping,
Impatient with our lingering goodbyes
Before he took himself off home.
Twenty miles he drove one way to court me —
No mean thing on these roads. He’s got farther
To come now, but he’ll make it, of that I’m sure.

The wagon will creak, the horses will whicker,
And he’ll call his Sweet Maudie to take one more ride
To see his new home.
Sober as a preacher-man he’ll be on that night,
And handsome enough to make me catch my breath
And hold it in ’til the end of the ride.

(2010)

Shortly after I finished “Wolfblood Sestina,” I got hold of a book of poetry exercises. This poem started from an exercise in that book. What finishing a challenging poem had begun, the book completed; the block came down in enormous chunks.

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