Emma Goes Back to the Home-place

We canned two bushels of peaches.
There are lots of tomatoes
for eating but they’re not
ripening too fast so we can
keep up with them. We don’t
have the flowers we used to.
My husband Will’s garden was full
of dill and he’s been fighting it
all summer. I made dill pickles,
though I can’t eat them. I want
to finish so I can replant violets.
I have two and three in a pot.

Last week I took a notion to get
some of mother’s lamb’s tail,
and figured it was still growing
down on the old home-place,
even though the land has been
fifty years wild, most of it
strip-mined. So yesterday we took
a ride down to Sherret. Things
have grown up something awful,
lots of farms have gone back.

We parked and I took Will back
the old lane, and at the bottom
of the mountain steps we found
a stand of those long white
blossoms—must have been a good
year for them, they were all over.
Mother had them up by the porch,
on the mountaintop, but now
they’ve seeded themselves below.
I dug down and got a good clump
and put it in a cardboard box.
We didn’t go up to the old place.
The steps are gone, and I’m sure
the house is too.

Next we visited one of my old
girlfriends. She was married
to a friend of my first husband.
I haven’t seen them since my son
was born nearly sixty years ago.
Even their neighbors knew me,
but for a while I kept them guessing.

I had been Sunday school secretary
and she was treasurer. When I told
her that, she had forgot. She has
turned kind of shaky. I said:
I am Emma Dobson, but I used to be
Peggy Lindsay, and before that
Margaret Woster.
I didn’t go
into how I got all those names,
but I was born Emma Margaret,
then each of my husbands called
me a name to go with theirs.

She knew me by my first and cried
My God and hugged me. I imagine
there’s lots of folks I still know
all over down there, if I could
keep up with where they’ve gone.
I made them acquainted with Will.

:: Naton Leslie, Emma Saves Her Life (2007)

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