Today’s prompt asked us to look at a book called Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. I wasn’t familiar with the book before but really enjoyed leafing through some of Masters’ dramatic monologues, each one spoken by a person buried in the cemetery of the fictional town of Spoon River, Illinois.
Today’s challenge was to write a poetic monologue in a similar style so I chose my great-grandmother, Ivy Wood (1893-1992). I’ve written about Ivy several times over the past few years, basing my fictional stories on the anecdotes she used to tell me in my childhood. I’ve also used her as the inspiration for a character in a much longer work – a multi-generational cross-genre novel I’m working on. Today’s poem reflects on Ivy’s first husband, Alec Forbes, whom she deserted when their baby was only a few months old. Alec was a mean drunk and used to hit my great-grandmother, but she told me the reason she ran away was because she was afraid he’d hurt their baby (my grandmother). This offereing gives a possible version of events and thoughts.
His blue eyes caught my attention
When I saw him in the park, cutting hair in the open air.
With so many mouths to feed in our house,
There was no money for luxuries like that
And I told him so.
His fingers feeling the weight of my hair awakened something sinful in me
So that when he asked if we could walk out,
I smiled and blushed and was not like myself.
We were married six months later.
His eyes were still blue, but the drink on his breath
Was a secret he had kept hidden from me.
He took me that night like a sheep in the field,
Filling my belly with our only child.
And he kept on drinking when his mother died,
And when our child was born,
And when the bailiffs arrived.
His eyes were still blue – and so were the bruises I bore,
So I left him, running away with the bairn.
My second husband was a kinder man,
But I never told him I was still married to Alec.