Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Widow's Funky Life

Widow Ragsdale's shanty,
---smells seeping from doors,
windows, roof, fake brick siding
---was a monster's nostrils spewing
steaming shit --rancid, mephitic,
Words for rotten fish, putrid out-
houses, rotting vegetables -- for
Miss Sukey, our mule who died
in a ravine --didn't fit the fetid
odor whirling from the Widow's.
Dad said the stink exceeded any vile,
noxious-to-the-nose, ferocious
fart by a country mile.
Widow Ragsdale, a village treasure---
ancient, endured without rancor
despite being a backslider,
whistled suggestively at males,
wore a halter top in August--
labored in her gardens, picking red
tomatoes to give away, deadheading
petunias days before her demise.
Even then some claimed a repulsive
stench rose in her dust, a haunting
Hawthorne hag causing blossoms
to wilt, contaminating nature.
After no Widow sighting for five
days, her house was stoned:
kids threw rocks on her tin roof,
town gossips pointed fingers,
tongues tattled. On the sixth day,
the Holiness preacher declared
God would forgive anyone who
rammed her door to bring out
the corpse.
The Widow was hauled away at midnight,
taken to a country cemetery, buried
without song or scripture, her shanty
torched, gardens plowed under, petunia
seeds sown by winds across the small
plot of the woman, once-treasured

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