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Willa Cather and the Toad
Willa Cather's bones lie in this New Hampshire
cemetery, sleeping a heavy Puritan sleep
below the hill where the meeting house
steeple pierces a watchful sky.
Jaffrey Center's white houses are silent,
their 24-paned windows revealing nothing.
They stand, tree-graced, ignorant
of the prairie's tall grass and sod huts,
of the broken world beyond the stone fences.
She made this corner under a maple her own,
left a small space for her faithful Edith
to join her after 25 years. And now,
another quarter century gone, there is also
Aug 7, 2005
ran over by car
memorialized ungrammatically on a piece of cardboard.
He comes here like the earth-owls, wild ducks, and snakes
come to Cather's characters, to attach her to the earth.
In one of her last public pictures Cather's face
seemed all bone, her large square jaw
having sloughed off most of the flesh
she'd carried for more than 70 years.
She looked pure, essential, ready
to sink into something complete and great.
Now she is there:
beyond East and West, wood and sod,
among earth-owls, wild ducks, snakes and toads.
Photos by author