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In the spring of my twenty-second year
I arrived, lost, at the beginnings of a fence
I walked to the door, trepidation in every step, and hence
She came out when I knocked, a little old dear
Opening the door and taking me in without fear
I apologized and apologized again
She smiled in her wrinkled face and told me to come in
So I set down my pack by the door and stepped in
The walls were covered with the light of the afternoon
The table was weathered with age, just like the lamps and chairs
And the floorboards creaked with as much as any board can dare
And there was the woman, who fit right in, said “Lunch will be done soon.”
Then turned her back and faced the stove, humming an old tune
One that was familiar, made me nostalgic, with the crackle of the stove
I sat down in a chair and faced her, wondering about her in the heat of the stove
Finally, I drew my knees together and asked her, What do you do here?
“Will you get me a bowl dear?” She pointed to an open shelf
I grabbed two, one for her, and one for myself
We sat at the table and she whispered a prayer so soft I couldn’t hear
Then she broke it with a clap and a nod, devoutness being her career
I looked in the bowl and saw spiced sweet potatoes and cilantro
When we were finished she put in her mouth a spear of cilantro
And asked me my name, and I told her it was Charlie
“Strange name for a girl” she said and then asked where I was going
I told her the truth, although she had a look that she was already knowing
That I was going to my friend’s house for a regular parley
But I saw the hills and had to see them even if just partly
And she smiled “Well they are beautiful.”
I could see that the woman also was beautiful
How long have you been here? I wondered to her
“When I was fifteen I came here to be alone, to escape I guess
So it’s been a long time, fifty-two if I have to confess.”
Her eyes traced back her steps and danced in the times of Were
Her eyebrows crinkled, her curly white hair stirred
“I was engaged to a regular old brute, who’d already had a wife
Whom he’d beaten and killed, and I didn’t want to be the next wife.
When it was apparent that no one would help me,
I ran as far as I could, into these hills, where I ran into a wanderer,
Much like yourself, curious and intriguing, a regular ponderer.
We lived together and I was happy as anyone can be.
After some time we married, because he was a man you see.
But then that old brute came along, I don’t know how he found me.
Saw my husband and my swelled belly with our first child, and started towards me.
My husband got in the way and it was quite a fight, but the brute pulled a knife out.
I had just gotten the gun from beside the door when I turned,
I saw the brute deal the finishing blow, and the gunpowder churned.
I shot him in the head and then rushed to my husband with a shout.
I cradled his head in my lap and watched as he traveled the heavenly route.
Six months later after I had buried my husband and fed the brute to the wolves,
I had the child, and we lived together for six years until she was claimed by wolves.
I reckon it was the brute’s revenge on us.
And so I’ve lived here ever since, with chickens and goats
To keep me company, along with my husband’s old boat.
We used to take it to the pond and row around without fuss.”
I had been looking down and when I looked up I froze in distress
Down her cheeks spilled large tears
And so I also spilled large tears
And our sadness mingled in the air, not of pity
I didn’t know what to say next
She didn’t know either I expect
“You really did become pretty.”
I looked up, wondering if I had incurred her pity
“My husband’s name was Charlie and so is your name too.”
And then she traveled the heavenly route and I went back with her too



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