Verse > Edgar Lee Masters > Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950).  Spoon River Anthology.  1916.

224. Willie Metcalf

I WAS Willie Metcalf. 
They used to call me “Doctor Meyers” 
Because, they said, I looked like him. 
And he was my father, according to Jack McGuire. 
I lived in the livery stable,         5
Sleeping on the floor 
Side by side with Roger Baughman’s bulldog, 
Or sometimes in a stall. 
I could crawl between the legs of the wildest horses 
Without getting kicked—we knew each other.  10
On spring days I tramped through the country 
To get the feeling, which I sometimes lost, 
That I was not a separate thing from the earth. 
I used to lose myself, as if in sleep, 
By lying with eyes half-open in the woods.  15
Sometimes I talked with animals—even toads and snakes— 
Anything that had an eye to look into. 
Once I saw a stone in the sunshine 
Trying to turn into jelly. 
In April days in this cemetery  20
The dead people gathered all about me, 
And grew still, like a congregation in silent prayer. 
I never knew whether I was a part of the earth 
With flowers growing in me, or whether I walked— 
Now I know.  25



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