Everyone else turned toward flower bedded gardens,
Groves, trimmed azaleas, poplars overlooking stone crescent benches,
But you headed toward the open field.
I think an ancestral claim was buried there,
But its location was too deep for divining.
A lifetime would not suffice to find and dig it up.
Apparently you didn’t mind, because you took untilled fields as your terrain,
And we, in our surprise, often viewed you in them, after many years,
Strolling among the alfalfa, shielding your eyes from the sun with your hand,
gathering fronds along your way.
We learned to enjoy the stories you brought back.
They were wrapped in a musty varnish, yet
Their message was as sharp as bent cane.
We sat on the ground and recorded them
As dogwoods blossomed in a balmy indulgent season.
There were stencils left over from earlier efforts, and they were
Soon committed to memory.
We applied the pen all afternoon.
Everything got written down.
I didn’t feel I lacked for anything.
What was in those pages?
We don’t need them any more.
We remember what we told each other.
I respun the words so many times
That I established a homestead on them.
Diligence was rewarded in those days, so we always applied ourselves.
You fed me too much, to be sure,
And eventually I taught myself the need for balance.
That wasn’t your job, though.
After all, the field went on too far to consider any stopping point.
This poem was published in the 2022 issue of Cæsura.
In memoriam, Charlotte Oram, 1915-2008
March 15, 2008