George W. Towne
1847 – 1899
From Iowa I came by restless wagon train.
From the mid-west I arrived
With satchel and silken scalp still intact.
I read Proverbs and Ecclesiastes to pass the time.
I read the Gospels of John and Luke.
I read Harriet Beecher Stowe and
I read John Greenleaf Whittier.
I saw the icy Rocky Mountains beckon me to the west
Waving their invisible fluid fingers
Like blond ballerinas in silent ever-moving tableaux.
I saw the railroad snake through the endless golden valleys.
And I saw the muddy roads converge
Under a hundred bee-infested pepper trees.
And it was here in this new colony I found a home
For my wife Fannie and our three dubious children.
You could always spot me in the distance,
Walking down Pickering Street.
For I was the dapper one in black derby hat
Taking the cash in the Greenleaf Avenue millinery.
I was the suited one in dusty black,
Winking and bowing to the lovely ladies
Showing my respect but imagining something else
Deep within my empty searching soul.
I was the tall, cleanly shaven erudite
Who had memorized the entire Gospel of John
And walked the northern foothills at sunset
Wearing my ever-present derby hat
And meeting, yes,
Secretly meeting Lucy Swain
Under the tall cedar tree on Rideout Ranch.
Confession is indeed good for the soul.
Confession has always allowed a good but dishonest man to sleep soundly.
To sleep long languorous hours on a cold winter’s night.
To sleep for an eternity without guilt or regrets
Under the hardened forgotten dirt of Clark Cemetery.
For I was the handsome one in derby hat
And only Lucy and I knew,
Only she and I knew intimately
About the patch of soft carpet-like grass,
There under the tall silent cedar tree
On Rideout Ranch.