AUNT MABEL

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(A poem by William Stafford)

This town is haunted by some good deed
that reappears like a country cousin, or truth
when language falters these days trying to lie,
because Aunt Mabel, an old lady gone now, would
accost even strangers to give bright flowers
away, quick as a striking snake.  It’s deeds like this
have weakened me, shaken by intermittent trust,
stricken with friendliness.

Our Senator talked like war, and Aunt Mabel
said,”He’s a brilliant man,
but we didn’t elect him that much.”

Everyone’s resolve weakens toward evening
or in a flash when a face melds—a stranger’s, even—
reminded for an instant between menace and fear:
There are Aunt Mabels all over the world,
or their graves in the rain.

2 responses »

    • They say (“they” who make pronouncements about writing) that the beginning is important to draw a reader in, and the ending is what is taken away and remembered. There’s probably some truth in that.

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