After a day of hunting deer,
chestnut mare and ebony stallion
leaping hedges, following streams,
galloping across cornfields,
the men join their women for a feast:
Anadama bread, blueberry muffins,
corn, peas, sweet potatoes, duck, venison,
home-cured Virginia ham, bear, milk,
flagons of beer and the best French wines.
Men discuss politics, philosophy,
whether to plant tobacco or grain,
Ladies in elegant gowns play piano
and sing, discuss what their children
have learned, strut across the lawn.
Then Mr. Jefferson takes out his fiddle,
plays minuets and the Virginia reel.
My feet can hardly resist dancing,
but I, who worked all day butchering,
plucking feathers from ducks, cleaning
vegetables, sweating at caldrons hung
over the hot fireplace must now wash dishes,
clean the dining room and stay out of reach
of that fine gentleman whose hand found my breast.
Monument: Lincoln, Kansas
The monument on the courthouse lawn
lists ten who died.
Blood oozing on the prairie,
Her brother was among those
who lost their lives,
his innocent play interrupted,
by the false Pawnee.
Her telling was graphic, intense,
full of sorrow.
It seemed but yesteryear
tomahawks split heads,
broke settler lives.
I saw it all in print,
found it happened
before Grandmother’s birth.
Her vivid recollections
were family tales
she’d heard from crib.
Later, too, I pondered
protecting home, family,
forests once full of game,
fields where they had wandered free,
tracked the sacred buffalo.
More lives were shattered
than Grandmother knew or told;
more died than had their names carved
for all to see. I claim each one
as brother, sister. I cannot grieve
the named without the unnamed.
Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society, has published numerous poems in anthologies, webzines, and print publications. She has published two books of poetry, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant (RWG Press) and Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books). Current projects include haiku, rengay, and other poems. Wilda’s grandchildren say she lives in a library. Her poetry blog features a monthly poetry contest and can be found at wildamorris.blogspot.com .