Weekly Poem: From ‘Ludlow’

BY jbreslow  March 29, 2010 at 12:55 PM EDT

David Mason is a poet, essayist, critic and professor. His most recent collection, “Ludlow,” is a novel in verse that tells the story of a handful of immigrants in southern Colorado and the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. Mason, who teaches literature and creative writing at Colorado College, will be featured on the NewsHour soon. His memoir, “News From the Village,” will be published April 1.

“Luisa,” Too Tall stopped to touch her hair.
“Lass, this man’s your new employer. Chin up.
Let’s look at you.” She saw the man’s good shoes
when he stepped down, the trousers, buttoned vest.
“George Reed,” said Mr. Reed. Don’t be afraid.”
He swung his hat off, a man of thirty years
with blue eyes and a blond mustache, his hair
parted almost down the middle. “That’s it,
good girl.” His mustache bristled when he smiled.
“She’s not much older’n mine. You say she can read?”
“She’s had it hard,” said Too Tall.
                                        “There’s plenty
around here had it hard,” said Mr. Reed.
“But we could use the help if she can work.
You can work, can’t you, young lady? Luisa,
right? Luisa, you can work, can’t you?”
Luisa nodded. “That a girl. Good girl.”

They loaded up her apple crates of clothing,
Bible, the wooden santo her mother brought
from a village far away, the carver’s name
made shiny by the rub of hands: abuelo.
No tiene uno ni madre,” said
a voice behind her. “Good lass. Good lassie.”
“Work hard and don’t forget us,” said Mrs,
“Good-bye,” said the house, the hens, the risen dust.