Off the Turnpike

Good ev'nin', Mis' Priest.
I jest stepped in to tell you Good-bye.
Yes, it's all over.
All my things is packed
An' every last one o' them boxes
Is on Bradley's team
Bein' hauled over to th' depot.
No, I ain't goin' back agin.
I'm stoppin' over to French's fer to-night,
And goin' down first train in th' mornin'.
Yes, it do seem kinder queer
Not to be goin' to see Cherry's Orchard no more,
But Land Sakes! When a change's comin',
Why, I al'ays say it can't come too quick.
Now, that's real kind o' you,
Your doughnuts is always so tasty.
Yes, I'm goin' to Chicago,
To my niece,
She's married to a fine man, hardware business,
An' doin' real well, she tells me.
Lizzie's be'n at me to go out ther for the longest while.
She ain't got no kith nor kin to Chicago, you know
She's rented me a real nice little flat,
Same house as hers,
An' I'm goin' to try that city livin' folks say's so pleasant.
Oh, yes, he was real generous,
Paid me a sight o' money fer the Orchard;
I told him 'twouldn't yield nothin' but stones,
But he ain't farmin' it.
Lor', no, Mis' Priest,
He's jest took it to set and look at the view.
Mebbe he wouldn't be so stuck on the view
Ef he'd seed it every mornin' and night for forty year
Same's as I have.
I dessay it's pretty enough,
But it's so pressed into me
I c'n see't with my eyes shut.
No. I ain't cold, Mis' Priest,
Don't shut th' door.
I'll be all right in a minit.
But I ain't a mite sorry to leave that view.
Well, mebbe 'tis queer to feel so,
An' mebbe 'taint.
My! But that tea's revivin'.
Old things ain't always pleasant things, Mis' Priest.
No, no, I don't cal'late on comin' back,
That's why I'd ruther be to Chicago,
Boston's too near.
It ain't cold, Mis' Priest,
It's jest my thoughts.
I ain't sick, only -
Mis' Priest, ef you've nothin' ter take yer time,
An' have a mind to listen,
Ther's somethin' I'd like ter speak about
I ain't never mentioned it,
But I'd like to tell yer 'fore I go.
Would you mind lowerin' them shades,
Fall twilight's awful grey,
An' that fire's real cosy with the shades drawed.
Well, I guess folks about here think I've be'n dret'ful onsociable.
You needn't say 'taint so, 'cause I know diff'rent.
An' what's more, it's true.
Well, the reason is I've be'n scared out o' my life.
Scared ev'ry minit o' th' time, fer eight year.
Eight mortal year 'tis, come next June.
'Twas on the eighteenth o' June,
Six months after I'd buried my husband,
That somethin' happened ter me.
Mebbe you'll mind that afore that
I was a cheery body.
Hiram was too,
Al'ays liked to ask a neighbor in,
An' ev'n when he died,
Barrin' low sperrits, I warn't averse to seein' nobody.
But that eighteenth o' June changed ev'rythin'.
I was doin' most o' th' farmwork myself,
With jest a hired boy, Clarence King, 'twas,
Comin' in fer an hour or two.
Well, that eighteenth o' June
I was goin' round,
Lockin' up and seein' to things 'fore I went to bed.
I was jest steppin' out t' th' barn,
Goin' round outside 'stead o' through the shed,
'Cause there was such a sight o' moonlight
Somehow or another I thought 'twould be pretty outdoors.
I got settled for pretty things that night, I guess.
I ain't stuck on 'em no more.
Well, them laylock bushes side o' th' house
Was real lovely.
Glitt'rin' and shakin' in the moonlight,
An' the smell o' them rose right up
An' most took my breath away.
The colour o' the spikes was all faded out,
They never keep their colour when the moon's on 'em,
But the smell fair 'toxicated me.
I was al'ays partial to a sweet scent,
An' I went close up t' th' bushes
So's to put my face right into a flower.
Mis' Priest, jest's I got breathin' in that laylock bloom
I saw, layin' right at my feet,
A man's hand!
It was as white's the side o' th' house,
And sparklin' like that lum'nous paint they put on gate-posts.
I screamed right out,
I couldn't help it,
An' I could hear my scream
Goin' over an' over
In that echo be'ind th' barn.
Hearin' it agin an' agin like that
Scared me so, I dar'sn't scream any more.
I jest stood ther,
And looked at that hand.
I thought the echo'd begin to hammer like my heart,
But it didn't.
There was only th' wind,
Sighin' through the laylock leaves,
An' slappin' 'em up agin the house.
Well, I guess I looked at that hand
Most ten minits,
An' it never moved,
Jest lay there white as white.
After a while I got to thinkin' that o' course
'Twas some drunken tramp over from Redfield.
That ca
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Amy Lowell

Amy Lawrence Lowell was an American poet of the imagist school from Brookline, Massachusetts who posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926. more…

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"Off the Turnpike" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 28 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/2268/off-the-turnpike>.

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