Poetry of Kansas

Two Wives.

The town was roused to the horror of it;
        Populace and press declared the man not fit 
To be called human. The story she told, 
        The poor broken wife, her child six years old 
At her side, scarred by the merciless blows, 
        Was bruited abroad, as the wild wind goes 
In every crevice. 
                              In her room alone,
        A beautiful woman read through the case,
Rose, went to the window, parted the lace 
        Whose delicate meshes caught the sunlight 
In tiny tangles of pale silken glare,__
        Too rude its pure strength for the lady there; 
                                        A pampered lady, she.
Unseeing, she looked out upon her world 
        That still slept, though the sun had unfurled 
His glory six hours before. Her lips 
        Were locked hard, as when thin bitterness drips 
From something made long ago to be sweet. 
        Unseeing, her eyes wandered to the street 
Sacred to riches. 
                            And she said, aloud,
"He beat her with his hands,__struck and kicked her
Here at this end of the street, we prefer 
To strike with the tongue. I bear no bruises, 
But I've been struck and struck till my heart is dead 
 Not all blows stain the flesh," the lady said, 
                                        And turned from the window
And the world outside, whose judgments are sure, 
 Envied the lady, and pitied "that poor 
Abused woman," cursing the wretch who beat 
 Her body.  And in an elegant suite 
Of club rooms a man lolled at ease that day, 
        Smoking and boasting the hours away, 
A gentleman. 
                          And in the public Ward
        Fanny Smith's maimed body lay soothed, embalmed 
In soft, wet things, like an anguish becalmed 
        In God's silence. And in a prison cell 
A man crouched and cursed, his foul, fear-rid eyes 
        Agape at hell with a fool's wide surprise;
                                      Is God in His heaven?
                                      Is all right with His world?

__Hannah Rea Woodman.

Poems by Hannah Rea Woodman
(Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: A. V. Haight & Company. 1909)
Page 19

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June 27, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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