GHOSTS OF SETTLER WOMEN
Today I climbed up Crowley’s Ridge.
I had a need to be alone—to find a spot
where no one else had walked.
I wandered deep into the hills
when suddenly I felt the ghosts of those
who stopped before—
How could I know? It looked untouched,
with dandelions and Job’s tears growing
wild and undisturbed.
But two dark cedars stood alone,
out of place; deep beneath the vines
I saw a ragged mint bed,
and rosey-pink oxalis mingled with weeds.
Wild honeysuckle tangled through a hedge
and tried to hide the neat design
nature did not pattern.
A faded strip of muslin,
tied around a straggly peony bush,
still marked it for protection
from someone’s careless scythe.
No sign remained of settler’s cabin;
it must have crumbled long ago,
but underneath rust-colored leaves
there lay a few stray bricks,
some lumps of coal,
all neatly hidden—
covered by the forest floor.
Man moves along for reasons of his own,
for gold or greed—
from hunger, fire or death.
Nature hides his path so only God
can know he came.
But woman has a need to leave her mark,
to show that she once loved this land
and called it home.
Annetta Talbot Beauchamp
Annetta Talbot Beauchamp, 81, of Helen, Arkansas received the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas 2007 Arkansas Merit Award. She is a poet, painter, gardener and historical preservationist. She has been published in a number of state—mostly southern—publications. She has seven children (counting three “adopted” nieces and nephews, and ”countless” grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her sun sign is Aquarius.