Well, Helen Chalmers, where do we start?
The day you were passed
To the childless couple who never officially
Adopted this child, first born, born of a servant girl:
Whose (not officially) adoptive mother
Died when you were very young.
And that (not officially) adoptive father
Wrapped your curls in cloth every night.
Who then married a widow with children of her own,
And you learned very quickly what jealousy was.
And though you excelled in your schooling
They made circumstances to relieve your furtherance.
So now, here you were a servant girl yourself
At a young age. At a young age you fell in love.
Rejection followed; heart broken you made a decision
To go to the end of the world.
Came the first port of call, Panama;
You met an American to whom
You lost your heart once again. But you both
Went your own ways. He had to stay. You travelled on;
once again, to the ends of the world. And later, much later
I, your daughter would think, he was a go-getter anyway.
And you arrived at the end of the world, a wonderful new beginning
where you met a good man and fell in love. He gave you a good life.
Though the first love you never forgot.
Dear Helen Chalmers.
Benita H. Kape (c) 8.4.2021
Day 8 NaPoWrMo 2021:
Helen Chalmers is based loosely on the monologue of Reuben Pantier in Spoon River Anthology, the monologue is from the woman herself though, reflective which I suppose we can do in an after-life. The constraint I put on myself was to have the exact same number of lines (24) and parody lines 1 and 24.
And last but not least, our (optional) prompt. I call this one “Return to Spoon River,” after Edgar Lee Masters’ eminently creepy 1915 book Spoon River Anthology. The book consists of well over 100 poetic monologues, each spoken by a person buried in the cemetery of the fictional town of Spoon River, Illinois.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to read a few of the poems from Spoon River Anthology, and then write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood, like the gentleman who ran the shoeshine stand, or one of your grandmother’s bingo buddies. As with Masters’ poems, the monologue doesn’t have to be a recounting of the person’s whole life, but could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy. Be as dramatic as you like – Masters’ certainly didn’t shy away from high emotion in writing his poems.