I met Ruth Stone in college. After all these years the only memory I have left of her actual being is her bright hair and her smile. She sat at the head of a table (in the post office?- that can’t be right), and I at her right elbow. I must have spoken to her but that part is gone. This is probably the way a baby remembers. I was still so new, I can’t say positively that I was even born. By the time we met, I had recently read her books. I do remember reading, unable to stop even as I walked around campus, and I remember feeling overwhelmed, as if, in my babyhood, it was written just for me.
. . . . .
Second- Hand Coat (1987)
I said to myself, do you have a plan?
And the answer was always, no, I have no plan.
Then I would say to myself, you must think of one.
But what happened went on, chaotic with necessary pain.
During the winter the dogs dug moles from their runs
And rolled them blind on frozen road.
Then the crossbills left at the equinox.
All this time I tried to think of a plan,
Something to bring the points together.
I saw that we move in a circle
But I was wordless in the field.
The smell of green steamed, everything shoved,
But I folded my hands and sat on the rocks.
Here I am, I said, with my eyes.
When they have fallen like marbles from their sockets,
What will become of this? And then I remembered
That there were young moles in my mind’s eye,
Whose pink bellies shaded to mauve plush,
Whose little dead snouts sparkled with crystals of frost;
And then it came to me, the blind will be leading the blind.
. . . . .
Who Is The Widow’s Muse? (1991)
Going past Utica
the widow is reminded
of the cotton mills.
Almost a century of Utica sheets
the great brick buildings
blackened with soot.
The widow’s knowledge of all this
was gleaned largely
from old stereoscopic cards…
double pictures of girls
standing in long rows
with their long hair hanging down
their backs and their long skirts
and their white waist shirts,
tending the long rows of looms.
Some of them were
sending their brothers to college.
“Yes, it’s true,” the muse sighs.