Grace Anna Goodhue,
a persona of grace.
Twas never church creeds,
but the spirit of the sermon
that lit the path beneath her feet,
leading her in music and song
that were her forms of worship,
education, her edification.
She taught those who could not hear
to read lips—
to learn the language of the perfect pitch.
She taught them how to live not just in their world,
but in the world around them,
so that they could be a part of both.
With an unspoken understanding,
she was to marry another,
but then she met Calvin
whose presence and poise
was most gentlemanly
with his quiet dignity.
She knew he needed her
more than she needed him,
and for seven days,
in the land of Montreal,
the man Calvin proved himself to be
ice to her fire.
She was his babbling brook
that bubbled over his still waters,
which would ripple all the way to Capitol Hill.
With her husband who spoke in silences,
she followed him,
even as he followed her.
As she listened to yarns on politics
behind closed doors,
she knitted away her anxiety,
ticking away the quiet.
The President’s equal, was Grace Anna—
his Florence Nightingale—
this lady with the knitting needle,
mightier than a sword.
She was a kindred suffragette—
a word that had always sounded
like a battered woman in a tattered dress.
When the right was recognized,
giving women the voice of men
to elect those who would rule over them,
she was there,
filling out an absentee ballot,
the flash of cameras dazzling in her depths.
An English rose, was this First Lady,
coming into the bloom of her time,
shining as the morning dew.
Like an archaeologist searching for an ancient language,
digging through tomes,
brushing them off like old bones,
she searched for a slice of herstory—
knowledge about the former mistresses
of the great, White House;
but, like the Bible in ways,
it was about the men who won the elections,
with the wives supporting them from behind,
raising their children,
doing what they did
so that their husbands could do what they did.
Though he never spoke of the issues of women,
he showed his respect in so many words,
in so many ways.
While he served the public,
she served the private,
her influence shielded like the veil of a widow,
a little light filtering through in times of his need.
Threads of conversation would unravel,
and she would pick up the ends,
knitting them back together.
Never did she want another to hear in him
what was unspoken—
a man in the greys of melancholy.
she was the princess of the American palace,
with the mice family her friends—
a love for the underdogs,
be they mice or women.
And then, in July of 1924,
the smallest thing,
killed her son,
leaving her with one
who would live to the New Millennium.
It was Grace who would wipe her husband’s tears
with the lace of her handkerchief.
Of an open door, she would write,
her spirituality shining through it,
banishing the darkness that was her grief.
When Calvin said a depression was coming,
she thought of all people,
he would know.
When she became a widow,
spending the next quarter of a century of her life as such,
she spoke no longer of the man
whose voice she had been.
“For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces.”