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To the Ghost of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

ISSUE:  Autumn 1960

To celebrate your brief life
as you lived it grimly
under attack as it happens
to any common soldier
black or white
surrounded by the heavy scent
of orange blossoms solitary
in your lowlying farm among the young trees

Wise and gentlevoiced
old colored women
attended you among the reeds
and paulownia
with its blobs of purple
flowers your pup smelling of
skunk beside your grove-men
lovesick maids and
one friend of the same sex
who knew how to handle a boat in a swamp

Your quick trips to your
New York publisher
beating your brains out
over the composition
under the trees to the tune
of a bull got loose
gathering the fruit and
preparing the fields to be put under the plough

You lived nerves drawn
tense beside dog-tooth-violets
bougainvillaea swaying
rushes and yellow jasmine
that smell so sweet
young and desperate
as you were taking chances
sometimes that you should be
thrown from the saddle
and get your neck broke
as it must have happened to you and did in the end.


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