local_library In Memory of Mrs. Hannah Osbourn

by Laima Donela

Published in Issue No. 27 ~ August, 1999

Relict of Mr. Samuel Osbourn
Who Departed This Life
August 30th, 1774
In her 76th Year


Your husband died Hannah Osbourn
leaving you relict, three decades a relic.
All you were to do now was knit, wait
until the local stone carver
carved you an angel –
one wearing a bonnet just like yours.


Hannah Osbourn I visited your grave every day.
I copied your angel into my sketchbook: wings sloping
to the very edge of the stone, pupils rolled upwards, in ecstasy
hair combed neatly back into a woman-angel’s bonnet.
I copied your inscription, noted your footstone –
angel in miniature.


Never once did I think you would haunt me.
Until Hannah Osbourn, I saw you, reflected
onto my windshield driving home late –
your face gaunt, several centuries engraved
fine gray cracks, parts broken away,
a little green pushing through.
You were angry. You missed me.


Hannah Osbourn I saw your lover too –
the one you took, relic or not relict.
You remained, a blade in ice.
You could not move about in time or space.
Your lover never could come forward.


All this I painted with boiling wax into silk
bought from an Indian widow in New Haven.
The sun burned over a hundred degrees that day.
I painted a wedding ring quilt.
A pool of scarlet.


The last time I visited you, Hannah Osbourn,
I was nine months pregnant.
Just outside your gates
I felt my baby drop.
Knowing when he would be born,
knowing, Hannah, I left you.

* Based on Fairfied, Connecticut, 1774 Winged effigy Relict

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Laima Donela (formerly Laima Sruoginis) graduated with a MFA from Columbia University's School of the Arts in 1994. Since then she received two Fulbright Lecturer's Grants in Creative Writing, has edited a 389 page anthology on contemporary Lithuanian literature ("Lithuania: In Her Own Words", Tyto Alba, 1997) and now teaches Creative Writing at the University of Southern Maine. Laima's poems and translations have appeared in several anthologies ("Child of Europe", Penguin, 1990, "Description of the Struggle", Picador 1992, "Two Worlds Walking", New Rivers Press, 1994), journals ("The Beloit Poetry Journal", "Artful Dodge", "Writ", "Modern Poetry in Translation", "Mr. Cogito" and others) as well as a national bus poster series ("Streetfare Journal" 1993). Presently Laima lives year round on Peaks Island, Maine with her husband and three children.