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Rated: E · Poetry · Biographical · #2181516
For my great-great grandmother Ellen J.L. Smith
My great-great grandmother wrote poetry,
but it was mostly bad.

No surprise.
they didn't teach past 8th grade in Snowflake
where her family was called to settle.
She regretted leaving Santaquin,
but her mother prophesied:
         You will never lose anything
         for your parents having obeyed counsel.

She was right.
even if Ellen had school-learning enough
to correct for grammar, punctuation,
skewampus rhythm and rhyme,
her poems would still be bad.

Or prosaic, rather. Practical—
congratulations, cradle rhymes,
anniversary and birthday blessings, condolences.
Bits composed while tending kids and beehives,
carding wool and knitting stockings,
pressing cheese and duping fruit trees
to bloom in the desert.
She took the art of creation literally.

Sometimes her lines spark—
when she tempted daughter Mae to visit
with promise of fresh melon and roasted sage hen.
When son Mons, unmarried at 45,
was called on a mission
and she nudged him to convert a thrifty wife.
But I read her works
more out of duty than pleasure.

I wonder if she knows,
if she leans over my chair as I read
yearning for approval,
willing me to understand.

Photography by Ellen Johanna Larson Smith can be found at the Church History Library website here: https://history.lds.org/blog/one-grand-adventure?lang=eng&fbclid=IwAR04ZRg0H4ViY...
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