2/18/16

In Which the Poet Does Anything But Write







It has been a brutal winter in the valley, with record lows and record snows and many good souls taken.

Kitt, Kitt, Kitt Muldoon, you were the gypsy woman, through and through. 

I have seen grace in the face of great loss, grace in the midst of losing a child, a spouse, a father, and in the presence of such grace, how could I not be reminded of my own whining, bitching, and complaining.  

Which always makes me think about Betty.  

Betty died five or 6 years ago at the age of 80.  She was the wife of an old cowboy poet named Charlie.  Charlie called himself a rhymester, and indeed he was. He knew all his poems by heart and recited them to anyone who'd listen until his voice finally gave out. There were times old Charlie would  launch into one of his poems and Betty would look my way and roll her eyes with such love it about broke me in two.  

The story went that Charlie married Betty when he was eighteen and she fourteen years old.  He put her in a shack out in the middle of nowhere, I think near Meeker -- where she taught herself to cook while Charlie was off punchin' cows for weeks at a time.  They had a couple of kids and lived happily ever after.    

At Betty's funeral, Charlie said some real nice things about Betty and then he recited about a hundred of his poems.  Then he said, his voice quivering, That Betty, she never complained.   

One by one, family members and loving friends hobbled to the podium and essentially said, Life was real hard, but that Betty, she never complained.

Nobody said that Betty read Wordsworth, Emerson, Thoreau.  Nobody said that Betty had her Elizabeth Barrett Browning by heart.  Nobody said that Betty could be wickedly funny, or that she wrote her own poems.

That Betty, she never complained.