When the gypsies came, your grandmother
made me promise not to go to the woods
where fires blazed and music played
and dark-eyed women danced in coins.
She said they'd steal a girl like me
with golden hair and flower skin
and make me begin filthy clothes
and feed me scraps of moldy bread. [cont.]
When I came back from San Francisco
at first no one knew me. Gone five years,
wearing white silk now, my pockets heavy
with the money I'd known I'd earn.
My family welcomed me, but even they
seemed uncertain of who I was, [cont.]
My father traveled fast and traveled far,
away from warmer rivers, warmer land--
all time, he said a single guiding star
and charity from one brave woman's hand. [cont.]
How does a woman know the man she's wed?
She shares his meals, she sleeps in the same bed, she soaps and blues his linens, mends his wools; yet always some strong waiting secret pulls [cont.]
Heat's set in early. June, already
chicory in bloom, that blue no eye
could ever be, and lilies orange
as a fencepost tomcat daring the sun [cont.]
At twenty I set out for Michigan.
Erie Canal, Lake Erie, overland
to Pontiac, then further in. A man
that age thinks all he needs is a strong hand [cont.]