Several months ago, I read a story in “The New Yorker” about a woman whose mother told her that her father would come back before John Wayne died, because she thought he would never die (though I cannot find the story now, and I almost wonder if I dreamt it). The story resonated with me, though, like it often is with a piece of art, I couldn’t say why.
The other night, I watched a movie called “Blossoms in the Dust”, starring Greer Garson (who, though not a beauty, had such a radiant charm, her beauty exceeded that of many others) and Walter Pidgeon (who I always thought was handsomer and more refined than Tyrone Power). Blossoms” was about Edna Gladney, who fought for the word “illegitimate” to be stricken from birth certificates because of the social stigma.
Hence, the inspirations for this poem.
She sits at the bay window,
surrounded by light,
her back to the shadows of the empty house.
From ages seven to twenty-one,
she has sat in this space on this date—
till the day the Legend died:
He will come, her mother had said,
before Elvis leaves this Earth,
he will come,
but then her mother had thought Elvis
would never die,
even though legends did all the time.
When the Legend passed on
to a world or worlds unknown,
it was like a second birthday,
even though a part of her,
that part of her called hope,
died that day, too.
And yet, how freeing was a lack of hope
in things, or people, never seen,
and how limitless was hope in what was to come,
dependent upon her and no one else?
Fourteen years she had waited,
laboring by being good
so that when he did come back,
he would stay.
But all those years had not been in vain,
for all the good she had been,
she had been for him,
till doing good became a part of her,
and it was only for that and her life,
she could thank him for.