Sena, when she bore you
Frances was forty, old for frontier folk,
Honed by weather and by work
To craggy angles, leather skin.
Mother of ten, to three men wife,
She was anything but frail
(And would live to eighty-two).
But she had been a lady once,
Banished from a gentle world
For marrying a handsome wretch
Who ran off and abandoned her
Thrown upon the mercy
Of Mississippi River French,
She and her children lived from door to door,
Barn to barn,
Until the Captain took her in,
Seeing perhaps a mother
For his own orphans at the fort.
I think he truly loved her, by and by;
Certain it is they lived together,
Bearing another four without a priest;
Certain it is he raised them all the same.
They wed before your birth,
Giving you a shame-free home.
I wonder what you thought
About your mother,
About the stories neighbors told
When they believed you couldn’t hear.
From what I’ve read about her
I think Frances set your mind at rest,
Letting you know she built her life on love,
Foolish at first, defiant then,
But finally serene,
And always true.
©2011 John I. Blair
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