last in a series...
At eleven she had read the most books of anyone at school.
By the time they formed the Queens class she was eclipsed.
Her mother kept her home that year,
Telling her that women didn't need to go to school to earn money later.
Women shouldn't have to work.
What did she do, during those four years of twilight
While all her friends were away?
She baked six hundred pies
Peeled three thousand and twelve potatoes
Stamped Christmas cookies out of a tin ring, twice
Broke a dozen eggs into an angel food cake for a wedding at White Sands
(it turned out well)
Stored boxes of apples in the cellar
And took them out
And put them back in again.
She hung organdy and cotton on and off clotheslines
Pulled feathers in and out of beds
Poured tea for guests, cambric for Minnie May
And stared absently at the books that now stood forgotten;
Ivanhoe and Euclid and one lonely Shakespeare.
She grew two inches taller,
Took out the waists of her dresses, a bit
And slowly became eighteen.
When Fred Wright noticed her carefully-knotted hair
It was a relief.