Elm Flats, New York
One day and one night I sat in your chair.
The things you left me all accounted for:
six children, twenty-five acres,
four bedrooms, a kitchen and parlor.
The doctor traveled fifty miles to name it:
heart attack. If I had known,
I would have sent you out with more
oranges, asked when the bank opens.
Leaving Argyll for Moon Farm, just west
of Saratoga, I thought that was the last
of leaving home too soon. Names of children
we lost we left to the past.
I never thought about happiness,
just kept my eyes on the horizon
and the height of our fathers, that great Birnam Oak,
bearing shade for us from across the ocean.
Letters from home made old hungers real.
For a long time 1818 was just another year.
No one would believe a woman
alone could survive, never mind prosper.
But that first day of counting, with the baby
on my lap, to him I promised
an inheritance: endless trees,
a hundred acres, hired men and rooms
to spare; a house filled with light, bellies with food
and friends paying visits like rain.
Learn this: to want nothing is good.
Money and years grew the land and I was patient
staring so long at the sun I burnt a hole in it.
Adrianna Smith was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and as a rule, has to stop inside every bookstore she passes. In 2016 she completed an MLitt in Literature from the University of St. Andrews. Adrianna also holds a B.A. from Georgetown University, where she was a Fellow at the Lannan Center for Poetics & Social Practice.