Friday, September 14, 2007


A lot of the older generation on our hollow are gone now. Ms. Igo was one of them. She lived alone in an old house in the bottom, with a hand-dug well with an iron pump in the yard, and an ancient pear tree hanging over the roof.

I seldom saw her and ever more rarely spoke to her, but the gleam of light in her window was one of the things I could expect on my way home on summer evenings. Later I learned that she'd had a good job, working for the government, I believe. When she retired she moved to the country, although as she aged she moved into town in winter.

Her house was burned down a few years after her death, and I realized that one by one the old people, and the old houses, were disappearing. This poem was written to their memory.


Her house was in the bottom
protected by an old pear tree
that hovered over house
and hand-dug well
like a patriarchal hand

She lived alone in that old place
a maiden lady so they said
her working years in town were over
so she came here to rest
to find a simpler way of life

But simple living can be hard
on aging bones and mind
wood heat and hand-pumped water
call for younger hands and backs
and silence can sometimes be too quiet

Still she stayed for many years
spending days and nights alone
her house subsided with over time
rusted roof and sagging shutters
reflected her body’s losing battle

Then one day she was gone
the tiny lamp no longer gleamed
in her kitchen window
the absence of its golden light
the only signal of her passing

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