I confess: I have been nothing
but a large stone
hanging around the neck of Father,
straining the health
from his broad farmer's cheeks.
Mother's patience a string
snipped as she urges me across the thresholds
I will not cross. I refuse
even church, drawing curtains
against the sun, against the sound
of children's voices.
Six months since the scent
of lavender, and languid afternoons
spent by the river, our river,
when it was docile and unspoiled.
Mary's fingers longer than mine,
entwined in the sweet grass. How I miss
the sound of her voice lilting.
Reduced now to a gravestone:
her name, the years
she lived and died.
I reduce myself
Mother drags my elbow
closer to the opened door,
but it is like lifting heavy stone.
It is 1904 and I am sixteen,
a woman about to be married,
mourning my best friend Mary
with the intensity of a child.
Mother's eyes flash: this cannot go on.
She does not understand my unspoken
vows, face tilted pale from the sun.