Last night, I slept with Elsie Acorn’s books
beneath my bed.
She’d left them by mistake,
a journal, a devotional, a scarf and a glass.
I was told when I arrived
she’d slept there the night before
and left her books by mistake.
So I put them on the chair beside my bed.
She’d given me a poem the day before.
When she was young, she had breast cancer.
They wheeled her along in town
or she lay in her bed
to attack her father.
She spit the whole way.
She never cussed.
She’d read books in her wheelchair
and throw them behind her
as he wheeled her along
as if he were pushing a baby in a buggy.
She opened up to all the pain inside her,
and in her wounds and iniquities
with her own British character,
and her supposed tos
she became a doctor,
a thousand doctors and all kinds
of ladies and scamps and parts of treatment
she’d left behind. It’s all in the poem,
how she hated her father, the doctor,
and how she recognized the true value of life.
I tell you this because I slept in that bed last night
and realized her anger for the first time
as real. I read her biography on my honeymoon
, I want to tell her.
when I pass through the waters of this poem
She was with me even then.
thou passed through the waters
I was with thee, I read in the poem now,
though it was not something she knew before now.
Peace I leave with you, my peace
saved her all those years ago.