Willie At The Foot Of The Bed (An Ode To Mary Todd Lincoln)

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Every night he comes, Mary
Do you see him?

Smiling as he did before
No pain in those forgiving eyes

Can he put your mind to rest?
Give you comfort in these terrible times?

A world gone mad
The thunder of guns pounding in the brain

Fires burning, men running, screaming
Limbs falling, hand and foot, out of the sky

Blood oozing in rivulets from the sodden ground
This nightmare we dream together

Why can’t we will it, ever to end?
Pull the bed sheets close, Mary

Willie, take your mother’s hand
Your father weeps outside the door

And the night, so long and cold
May never end.

Historical Note: Willie Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln, loved learning, wrote poetry, and excelled in math. He died in Feb.1862 at the age of 12. His parents were devastated. Afterward, the grieving Mary Lincoln slipped into mental instability. She claimed, ‘Willie lives. He comes to me every night and stands at the foot of the bed with the same sweet adorable smile he always has had.’

(Previously published in Ancestry.com,2003)

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