AT first I suspected something—
She acted so calm and absent-minded.
And one day I heard the back door shut
As I entered the front, and I saw him slink
Back of the smokehouse into the lot
And run across the field.
And I meant to kill him on sight.
But that day, walking near Fourth Bridge
Without a stick or a stone at hand,
All of a sudden I saw him standing
Scared to death, holding his rabbits,
And all I could say was, “Don’t, Don’t, Don’t,”
As he aimed and fired at my heart.
SILENT before the jury
Returning no word to the judge when he asked me
If I had aught to say against the sentence,
Only shaking my head.
What could I say to people who thought
That a woman of thirty-five was at fault
When her lover of nineteen killed her husband?
Even though she had said to him over and over,
“Go away, Elmer, go far away,
I have maddened your brain with the gift of my body:
You will do some terrible thing.”
And just as I feared, he killed my husband;
With which I had nothing to do, before God!
Silent for thirty years in prison
And the iron gates of Joliet
Swung as the gray and silent trusties
Carried me out in a coffin.
WHAT but the love of God could have softened
And made forgiving the people of Spoon River
Toward me who wronged the bed of Thomas Merritt
And murdered him beside?
Oh, loving hearts that took me in again
When I returned from fourteen years in prison!
Oh, helping hands that in the church received me
And heard with tears my penitent confession,
Who took the sacrament of bread and wine!
Repent, ye living ones, and rest with Jesus.