Josephine at Eighteen

This poem was inspired by both a painting and a story I was told of my father’s mother. She was engaged to a soldier in World War I who did not come home. Years later she married my grandfather. This poem has been published in Time of Singing Fall2008. I only wish I could post a copy of the original painting with this poem. I have not been able to locate it online but if you are ever at the Saint Louis Art Museum you may stumble across it.

Josephine at Eighteen
After Girl With a Dog 1914 by Frank Weston Benton

You never know where life might find you—
alone under the prairie sky.
Wind teases with a taste of autumn.
What can a girl expect
Thunder, lightning, a threat of rain—
no, the sky is a muddied blue.
Your hound guards the horizon, alert
his long nose points outside the current landscape.
You wait, for what?
Word of war, lines form on another continent.
Your fiancé, goes to soldier, leaves you behind
for a narrow, muddied trench
somewhere outside Paris, in the midst of France?
Girl, tuck your straw hat back upon your head,
don’t chance a touch of sunstroke.
Something may come of life, someone
may invite you out to dance.
Life is not all down hill from where you sit,
follow your dog’s inclination.
The picture doesn’t end here.

c.2008 Darlene Moore Berg


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