For SARAH DURKEEWI (d. 1803)

22 Apr 2014

In Wilkes-Barre's Hollenback, I first noticed ROSANNAH.
Her dark early nineteenth-century stone
gave no words but that--
until I pulled some dandelions from the base.
I saw "Wife of Samuel Carey."
She was Rosannah Carey.
There are hundreds of womens' first names
on scattered stones with base inscriptions
"Wife of" devoting, even in death, their
identity to their husbands.
One thin stone attracted me.

   I had wondered for some time about
   the origin of such a name.

Not Asian or European, but
rather a stone-cutter's mistake.
The second line read FE OF ROBERT.
Did the cutter work at night and,
in darkness, lack one letter
in her last name and start "WIFE"
on the wrong line ?
Was he drunk ?
Could he have known that she would
have no identity at all ?

   I have wondered for some time about
   the origin of such a mistake.

[circa 1989. Also my first published poem... paid $4 for it by the Endless Mountains Review. I thought it was neat to get paid for that; I never cashed the check.]

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