Wednesday, November 24, 2010


[Published in The Copperfield Review, Winter 2012]


John Ratcliffe, Marshall County, Kansas, 1876, after his wife, Mary, has left him.

Sunlight glints across the sharded floor…
blue light, and he knows
it was the glass he gave her.

He reflects upon another day…

They rode on borrowed horses,
leaving Wheeling at the first blue light of dawn
while others still slept.
Into the ancient hills they rode
to West Alexander
and a chapel where they would wed.
Just the two of them,
no family, no friends,
no queries from the Meeting,
no concerns over their beliefs,
or perhaps lack thereof.
Just the two of them,
and the preacher and wife to make it legal.

Side by side they rode
under that November sky
clear and blue as her eyes;
blue as her gingham dress
and the ribbon (a gift from his mother)
holding back her dark hair.
Through familiar meadows
where they walked,
gathering plants for her collection,
and minerals to color glass,
the cobalt that he used
for the two glasses in his bag.

He remembered the day they met—
the things they talked of:
plants and rocks, sand and glass,
the designs of nature,
the creation of beauty in the artist’s hands.
He thought of walks in the mountains,
sharing their dreams—
she, to be a surgeon and scientist;
he, an artist, shaping glass and stone—
dreams left far behind in Wheeling.

Sunlight glints across the sharded floor,
he takes the other glass from the shelf
and remembers the end of that other day—

Down the ancient mountains,
their new life beginning,
they rode on borrowed horses
under blue November skies.
In a familiar meadow,
at a spring, clear water flowing
they stopped. In his saddlebag
two blue glasses,
blown and cut by hand;
together they filled them from the spring,
and drank to the dreams they would share.

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