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MISS JENNY LIVERMORE of Charlotte, Vermont

MISS JENNY LIVERMORE of Charlotte, Vermont
By Zyskandar A. Jaimot on 06/30/2007
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Reviews: 3
MISS JENNY LIVERMORE of Charlotte,Vermont

Jenny Livermore died the other day
You didn’t know her

Jenny lived in a little house
near the bend in the road by my school
Not really a house but really
just a bedroom-kitchen and connected wood shed
It always smelled of animals and hay
I waved everyday on my way in the morning
She raised her hand in sort of a salute

Jenny taught me how to milk a cow
To milk a cow by hand
There’s nothing to it with a machine
She said working out her loneliness
Sharing her knowledge with an air of pride

Jenny always thought of herself in man’s terms
Dressing in men’s trousers worn leather work gloves
men’s work shirts suspenders cloth overcoats
A greasy cap with visor worn year in year out
Her cropped gray hair underneath
Jagged like her unkempt fingernails
Always wearing green rubber barn boots (called Pacs)
The smell of manure clinging like fleece to all of her
Other children called her dirty and worse
But she was a friend throughout my early seasons

Miss Livermore raised cows and sheep and chickens alone
She had relatives but I didn’t know them well enough
I just knew Jenny

There was an old barn out in the back field
Not really a barn more like a leanto
four posts and a roof the sides fallen off
She lived on swampy farm land not good for crops
but Jenny raised generations of cats
All her cat - even the one that lost its tail to the mower’s chop
got saucers of milk
Even though Jenny was “just making—do”
A polite term for a hard life of sacrifice

I always made special trips in the spring
Stopping by almost every afternoon to see the new lambs
I was allowed to feed the twins
Warm mouths always nuzzling for more
As if Jenny had anymore to give
We kept them alive and warm
with the heat of the kitchen wood stove
as we allowed it to leak into the uninsulated shed

Toward the end she fed the sheep
out of her bedroom window
What with her arthritis and age and all
Propped against spooled maple headboard
refusing to let life’s bruises take away her joy
And I grew up and married and moved away
Raising children of my own who never met her

Jenny Livermore died the other day
You didn’t know her
She died because the pains of loneliness grew ever sharper
after all the cats succumbed to the diphtheria
She died because the sheep were taken away
She died because there were no more creatures left to love.

© By Zyskandar A. Jaimot On 6/30/2007 9:33:52 AM
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