when i was a little girl
younger than nine or ten
i once spoke to the silver lady
but i never saw her again.
to me she flew out of the sky
she was born riding on the water
her hair blew all around her
she was the crazy man’s only daughter.
i used to see her every day
riding her golden pony
only once did i hear her laugh
and it echoed far and lonely.
once i watched the river run
and i wandered too far from home
there i met the silver lady
she was crying, all alone.
i said, “lady, why are you crying?
if i had wings like you
i would be flying over this river
and singing like only birds do.”
well she threw back her head and she smiled at me
her tears, how they shone in the sun
she said, “i have no wings to fly with
if i did i would surely be gone.
“my brothers have all gone far away
to follow their hearts and be free
but i am the youngest and my father is ageing
and all he’s got left is me.
“i love my father dearly
madman though he may be
it would break his heart if i should leave him
but this life is killing me.
“i feel the ocean pulling me
the breezes come and tell me things
i want to go with them wherever they go
and see what the new morning brings.”
so she sadly turned away from me
so i stumbled my way back home
the next day i heard she had taken her horse
and gone off to parts unknown.
her father stayed inside his lonely house
and he never more came into town
he could be seen roaming the riverside
and they say that he jumped in and drowned.
long though i waited, she never returned
but when i felt a silver breeze
i knew she had sent it from wherever she was
to tell us that now she was free.
(july 2, 1974)