This is one small part of my novella, Sweet William. It is about my favorite character, the real life angel of the story, Nell. Did she never marry because of the pain she felt when her first love was killed in the Viet Nam War? That is only one of the serious questions asked and answered in the book
I wrote Nell into a poem before I wrote her into Sweet William. Read the book and then let me know what you think...but first, read the poem.
A Love Story
One summer day, hot and humid,
she, with windows open, fans going, was standing
letting the air blow an ice cube
up and down her arms, around her neck,
thinking, a man to run his finger up her arm
like this ice cube, making goose bumps
as a knock on the door made her jump,
feeling guilty somehow for her thoughts.
On the porch was a man looking with a grin
at her feelings, she thought,
selling Bibles, he said.
She watched his face, not listening;
the way his lips moved, the straight line of his teeth,
the crease that appeared, then disappeared
from the corner of his eye.
She had wished for a man and this one had appeared.
He told her about college and selling Bibles door to door
to support himself, to help his family.
He told her about his three young sisters
and one brother, how his mom was sick
his dad having trouble.
She bought a Bible, of course.
She bought a Bible, even though she already had one.
How could she not buy a Bible from this man?
Usually, words flowed from her like music
from an early morning song- bird.
How to make him stay, after the Bible was in her hand
and the dull day was threatening return?
The ice melted slowly in her hand
making a wet spot on the bodice of her dress.
She thought of the heat and this man trudging with his
sacred suitcase full of the Word, and the ice slowly melting
on her chances.
He stayed drinking ice tea as shadows fell on the day
and the afternoon breeze curled the pages
of the Bible that lay on the table between them.
They were married in the spring
and they had just planted a garden,
when he was drafted.
She kept him safe under her pillow
where his love touched her
with long and passionate letters.
Killing was not in him and he was sick
from the fear of it, he said.
He had seen his friend turn in the middle of a laugh
into a land mine and disappear.
After that he kept to himself, afraid friendship would breed more pain.
One cool evening as she turned the bed down
and touched the stack of envelops as tenderly as skin,
she was with him in the trenches watching
the quiet of the morning.
She could hear the birds, her love's loud breathing
and a frantic heart-beat.
Was it his? Was it hers?
Be still, she said,
but, he was running up the hill
then the hill exploded
like red rain.
This poem was published in Reflections on the Web, 2003