I WANTED to go away to college
But rich Aunt Persis wouldn’t help me.
So I made gardens and raked the lawns
And bought John Alden’s books with my earnings
And toiled for the very means of life.
I wanted to marry Delia Prickett,
But how could I do it with what I earned?
And there was Aunt Persis more than seventy
Who sat in a wheel-chair half alive
With her throat so paralyzed, when she swallowed
The soup ran out of her mouth like a duck—
A gourmand yet, investing her income
In mortgages, fretting all the time
About her notes and rents and papers.
That day I was sawing wood for her,
And reading Proudhon in between.
I went in the house for a drink of water,
And there she sat asleep in her chair,
And Proudhon lying on the table,
And a bottle of chloroform on the book,
She used sometimes for an aching tooth!
I poured the chloroform on a handkerchief
And held it to her nose till she died.—
Oh Delia, Delia, you and Proudhon
Steadied my hand, and the coroner
Said she died of heart failure.
I married Delia and got the money—
A joke on you, Spoon River?
NOTE: “Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a French politician and the founder of mutualist philosophy. He was the first person to declare himself an anarchist using that term and is widely regarded as one of the ideology’s most influential theorists.” — Wikipedia