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Lacey of Riverwood

In the town of Riverwood in the state of
Pennsylvania they got grass and lumber,
Trees and cows and silver from mining under
Silvertop Mountain.

Frankly worthless, but for the westward train line
Running mighty carriages, hauling people,
Freight an’ goods, the civilised necessaries
People desire.

Now, to speak regarding the folks in question,
Farmers, miners, cowboys all sweaty, dusty,
Hardened men and women despite the river views, which
Brighten the township.

Lacey Blackburn, she was a miner’s daughter
Gentle, not the sort you’d expect to find in
Such a place, all given to dreaming, fair of
Skin and of manner.

Raven locks and emerald eyes so often
Lost, unfocused, Lacey was quite a beauty,
Sadly hard afflicted with that most deadly
Malady: boredom.

* * * * *

Winter was a memory and the Spring was
Fully Springing, washing the darker days and
Bringing sunlight back from forgotten places;
Season’s renewal.

Heaving beast of metal and steam, the train was
Growling like an animal as it reached the
Wooden platform serving the township’s people,
Straddling Main Street.

Down came quite a boot upon quite a foot, and
Next to that another was soon to greet the
Board beneath, supporting the legs of quite a
Newcomer’s body.

Finely dressed and given to observation,
Perspicacious woman of leisure, dressed in
Satin brocade, rich and a shade of purple
Pleasing to look at.

Gentle Lacey, open of mind and heart, was
At the station, daydreaming, unprepared for
Catching sight and scent of the new arrival,
Nor her attraction.

* * * * *

That was not a concept that Lacey ever
Had considered, given that all the people
She had known held nothing of charm or brightness;
Now she felt different.

All at once she knew that she never wanted
Something simple or, for that matter, men-folk;
Caught within the gaze of this woman’s eyes, she
Found herself waking.

Given how the Riverwood folk were tended,
Lacey’s passion, newly awakened, nascent,
Wasn’t something easily spoken of or
Lightly considered.

Nor did Annabelle, as her name was given,
Lack for much attention from men of all sorts
Courted, flattered, presents galore the month long;
All she accepted.

What could Lacey, simply a miner’s daughter,
Give or say to turn such a beauty’s heart thus?
Barely talking, barely a word together,
Lovesick young Lacey.

* * * * *

Caught while making moon-eyes at Annabelle, her
Father wagged his finger at Lacey sternly.
“Close your heart to that one, or make your move, or
Else you will miss out.”

Given more to quietness, Lacey wondered
How to make her feelings apparent, given
How the men of Riverwood worked to woo her
Annabelle Murphy.

Stones of red carnelian, chosen special,
Matching hair of flame and those eyes of amber.
“Here, a present.” Awkwardness, silence, laughter.
“Hey. I’ve been waiting.”

Happy Lacey, blushing and grinning, joyful
Found her way to love in the arms of Anna,
Simple miner’s daughter and stylish lady,
Always together.

In the town of Riverwood in the state of
Pennsylvania they got grass and lumber,
Trees and cows and silver, but also Lacey,
Happy with Anna.


This is my second, and certainly more coherent, attempt at modern Sapphic stanza poetry. Twenty stanzas long, I was aiming for 500 words and exceeded that count by about 11. It’s hardly a Classical masterpiece but I’m fairly happy with it.

To clarify: I’ve never visited the US of A. I have no idea if Pennsylvania has or had a town called Riverwood in it. Also, this poem is set roughly within the frontier years of the colonial expansion into the West. Apologies to the history buffs that this poem annoys.

Still, I had fun writing it and I hope you had fun reading it.

— Scott Thornby, 2016.03.09