Lucy Audubon Wearies of Coping with Poverty
and Her Husband’s Rambling Ways, 1821
Hopes are shy birds flying at a great distance.
Your remark, dear husband, is also true
of money which flies Away From
not toward this family. Your two young sons
(shall they be clothed in feathers?)
and I fend for ourselves while you—
great-footed hawk, black-bellied darter,
magnolia warbler—migrate in pursuit
of Ornithological obsessions. From New Orleans
you send me Queen’s Ware dishes. Oh, John,
I am anything but queenly:
no table of my own to set, family silver
gone to bankruptcy, four teeth pulled.
(Gaping holes, John.)
*Note: Quote is by John Audubon
In New Orleans, the Audubons
Sit for Silhouette Cuttings, 1825
Swift and sure as a swallow,
Mr. Edwards’ scissors dart
in and out–
along the black paper. Voila!
The countenance of my husband
at his neck, soft curls
combed with my fingers
clipped by my scissors
forehead of a dreamer
Gallic nose from his papa
chin of a determined general.
We are agreed—John must go.
Soon he will sail to England.
America cannot engrave his life-sized
vision: The Birds of America.
My turn. I sit still.
The scissors know only
the shape of what is,
not what will be.
~ ~ ~
Susan J. Erickson’s poems appear recently in 2River View, Cirque, Crab Creek Review, Raven Chronicles, Switched-on-Gutenberg, Knockout Literary Review,Floating Bridge Review and The Lyric. She lives in Bellingham, Washington where she helped establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk. She is working on a manuscript of poems in women’s voices.