LOSING MY LOVER

~from  the American Folk Song Suite

We climbed the blue mountain
through the last spring snowfall.
It was cold, so we build a fire,
and sat with our backs against a stone.
“Marry me,” he said again.
“Why won’t you marry me?”
I want a home,” he said.
“I want children.  I work
down there all day, the dirt,
the noise of engines–I want to come home
someplace quiet and nice,
a good supper, a friendly bed.”
We’d been through this before.
He doesn’t understand.
I told him once more
that I couldn’t, that I wouldn’t.
I have too much to do,
things to see before I settle down
with the burden of house and babies.
I didn’t tell him I was never quite sure of him,
though for awhile it was good,
or maybe I was just blinded by his good looks.
Stealing hearts is what he did best.
I didn’t tell him that the other day I heard
about the girl he had
over on the other side of the mountain,
and the wife he left back in Philadelphia.
What would be the point?
It’s better to let him down like this, safer.
No blame, except on me.
“You’ll lose me if you don’t marry me,”
he said.  I didn’t say anything.
“Maybe you don’t love me anymore,”
he said, and I said maybe not.
So we put the fire out and walked down.
The snow was already melting
and the ground was soft and damp.
Once I get used to being alone again,
I know this will be for the best.
At least, that’s what I’m telling my friends.

 

 

Can you guess the song?

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REUNION

I waited a long time.
I came first, got a job in this hotel
down by the river.  Folks stay here
before they go on the riverboats.
Mostly they’re nice people,
but things can get rough sometimes.
I’m glad I’m in the kitchen.
He said he’d come
right after he helped the parents
with the butchering and the beans,
but that time was well past,
and I hadn’t even had a letter.
“It’s a long way,” Cook kept telling me,
“a long walk.  But he’ll come,
I can feel it in my bones.”
Cook caught me crying this morning
while I was stirring up the buckwheat cakes.
“How long since you’ve eaten, child?”
she wanted to know.  “You’re getting
mighty thin.”  I told her I guessed
I hadn’t had anything for a day or so,
I’d been that worried.
“That man of yours, he’ll get here,”
she said.  “Only a fool wouldn’t come
for a woman like you.”
She made me sit down and eat
a plate of cakes, all buttered up.
While I was eating them,
I looked out the kitchen window,
and there he was,
coming down the hill in the rain.

 

Part of “The American Folk Song Suite.” Can you guess which one?