Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The Ballad of Ivy Bailey

Artemis Brown


Ivy Bailey was a little girl
Who cried on a regular basis.
She wore little earrings made of pearl.
She wore many faces.

She had pigtails and missing teeth
And bruises on her knees.
She liked to jump from the garden wall
And play monkey in the trees.

Ivy loved to go to school;
The children thought her swell.
She was the teachers' little jewel,
But she'd a secret to tell.

Ivy always trudged along
When she was going home.
And so the children always thought
She didn't like being alone.

Mother peered into the gloom
And spied her wayward daughter.
She pulled her into the living room
And dashed her face with water.

"That's for making Father wait,"
Mother's glare was sharp.
It held her cold and sure as Fate
And plucked her like a harp.

Ivy stumbled as she crept
Up to the musty bed.
She knelt on the hard floor as she wept
And looked up at her Dad.

"What have you been doing, girl?"
You ungrateful, rotten child,
I'll take away your little pearls
And give you some of mine."

Mother closed the door behind
And sat down with her knitting.
She was deaf and she was blind
To the groaning and the hitting.

Ivy slept with aching limbs
And ichors in her throat.
She woke before morning came in
And penned a little note.

She gathered round her little robe
And climbed over the sill.
The frost chilled her tender lobes
As she walked to Cemetery Hill.

Ivy searched for the gray stone
That marked Grandmother's grave.
And though she was all alone,
Her smile was very brave.

Soon she couldn't feel her feet;
She shivered and she drowsed.
Her lashes froze onto her cheek,
Her little head was bowed.

The sun rose on a new angel
Among cemetery trees
With a smile that never fell
And bruises on her knees.

***

 

© Artemis Brown

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012