HOMECOMING: From the American Folksong Suite

It was a long journey through the passes
between the mountains.  It took days.
I had to stop often to water the horses,
to find places for them to graze.
They told me I was a fool to keep six horses,
but they’re all I have of Father’s,
them and his old red flannel shirt
and hunting trousers that I wore all the way.
I tucked my hair up into his cap, too.
Not that I was afraid–Father taught me
how to shoot, and more than one man
has felt my knuckles on his jaw–
but I figured it would be easier, pretending
to be a man–nobody would stop to help.
I didn’t want help.  I didn’t get much
when Mother died, and I didn’t get any
when Father did.  I was too busy
even to cry–selling the coach
and the house and barns to Parker Brady.
He wanted the horses, too, but I wouldn’t sell–
he’s hard on horses.  Then I was occupied
with getting the old wagon mended,
and seeing to the canvas and tack,
and packing up some oats for the horses
and some pork and flour for me,
and the few bits of furniture and things
of Mother’s I wanted to bring.
It took longer than I thought, but I did all right.
I always have.
It was a long journey,
but at last I looked down into the valley,
and saw the yellow house like a toy house
with the lamp already shining
from Grandma’s bedroom window,
and Uncle Heman, still so far away in the yard,
like a little toy person, waving to me.
I got a lump in my throat–I couldn’t help it.
And then I drove into the yard, and the little kids
gathered round, all yelling hello,
and Uncle Heman took the reins
and I climbed down, kind of wobbly.
I didn’t know how tired I was till then.
And when  Aunt Ella came out of the shed
and ran to meet me in her bloody apron,
brushing  feathers off her hands,
I couldn’t help but cry.

One comment on “HOMECOMING: From the American Folksong Suite

  1. Mag says:

    Oh, Mary. This is beautiful. Thank you.

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