Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, with a genius older brother destined for NASA, a ghost, and a yard full of cats. She graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. Her poems have been published in numerous journals, including Poetry East, Midwest Quarterly Review, and The Ekphrastic Review. Alarie hopes you’ll visit her at alariepoet.com to learn about her books and sample her blog.
Christina Olson (1947)
painting by Andrew Wyeth
History dropped me here in Maine.
My forebears fled the shame
of Salem. Cut family ties
to the so-called Justice who hanged
women like me – those who don’t blend
in, who speak their minds, only bow
their heads from a noose.
They say one of those witches
cursed our line with her last
breath. If so, that curse waited
for me. My twisted legs have thrown
me to the ground so many times
they refuse to carry me anymore.
My body wasn’t suited to a life
of pumping water, building fires –
my limp arms almost as useless
as my legs, scarred by burns
from heavy cast iron skillets.
Daddy didn’t want a school teacher
looking down on him, demanded I stay
home and help mother. Said I was smart
enough for a girl. Another kind
I see the looks of pity. Poor
Christina, scrabbling just to hang
onto that weathered house,
near useless land.
They’ll never know the peace I feel
when I sit in this doorway and cast
my thoughts far, far out to sea.