At the site of the Laurelton Village for Feeble-minded Girls of Childbearing Age
No ghosts. Only witness trees
casting dark on lawns. Cool nets.
Rustles above, alongside.
Where the fields were, maybe,
green beans, cukes, tomatoes.
Where the grass now sways hip-high,
hips in cotton dresses swayed.
Where the orchards: pear, plum, apple.
Baskets of them in arms.
Where stone was lifted and made
Porches painted white.
Can’t you see the ones called morons
idiots shelling peas.
milkers of cows,
and those incorrigibles
who couldn’t be trusted
with a shovel,
weeding the long rain-loosened rows
on hands and knees? Scrubbing floors,
hanging sheets to flap
and then by supper
spread again on beds.
Can’t you see yourself
standing inside the corn
grown higher than faces?
How you might watch the whores
and nulliparae dance
like boys and girls,
from open windows, curtains wafting
as if in a film and you alone
in knowing what you were
missing? No one seems to notice.
no one bashing through stalks to lead you
back by the ordinary arm.
Originally, the poem appeared in Deirdre O’Connor’s book of poems, The Cupped Field, Able Muse Press,2019