A Bottle of Blue Glass
"You'll have the strength of a hundred men," the fairy tales said.
And so Edythe, resolute, went after the blue bottle.
She scaled peaks, braved wildcats,
and swam the waterfall to face the bridge of stone,
one narrow slab scarcely wide enough for a grave,
the world unfolding its ridges underneath.
There she ate the last apples, wanting nothing to carry,
knowing firsthand things were worst
when faced on an empty stomach;
and if she fell, tumbling like a broken angel
down the depths of her old life,
they'd be wasted.
She kept her eyes on the path ahead,
imagining her aunt standing there waving her on,
whom she'd left on her sickbed.
Her steps weary but sure, Edythe reached the peak,
felt for the niche, and uncovered
blue glass that shone like Grandma's vases on the sill
before they'd sold it all, the fields fallow--not enough hands left,
and the government stole like the absentee Irish landlords
who drove Grandpa's parents here. Her trembling hands
brought blue glass to her lips. She watched an eagle,
crossing gray sky. Poison, or life?
Either way, her choice was simple.
She drank her fill.
She shook as it coursed through her:
stream's force, sun's amber energy,
mother's blood. Eyes wide with beauty,
she descended rambling slopes to build a new life,
her tireless energy sowing hope, till the village grew
to prosperous town, Edythe's patient industry their miracle,
her smiling example their inspiration, one woman's unbending vitality
surviving even when floods washed out crops or babies died.
Eighty years after blue glass, she still has the energy
she drank that day, a sunbolt of honey by which she still lives
on her own at ninety-seven and cares for shut-ins half her age.
Though she buried her beloved husband long ago,
sixteen great-grandchildren love Edythe,
lively despite her shrunken frame,
her steps slow but sure, her blue eyes sparkling
like sun on the mountain stream,
or blue glass high on the peak, unbroken, strong.