Monumental – by Judith Prest

for my great aunt, Carrie Mae Arnold, 1878-1955

Aunt Carrie, who died
in the Allentown Asylum,
the one
who left Nowhere, PA
for vaudeville
in New Orleans,
who returned,
married a failed farmer.

Aunt Carrie, the one
dressed in black,
walked country roads
barefoot, weeping.
Aunt Carrie,
who passed the
wildwoman gene
through my mother
down to me.

I have her photograph,
blown up
from a tiny tintype.
She sits
dolled up, smiles wide.
A dapper man
sits next to her,
back in the day
when folks did not smile
at the camera.

I want to see this image
of my Great Aunt Carrie
in all her glory,
looking like a fancy lady.
I want to see
this photo
thirty feet high
on Main Street
in Allentown.

Judith Prest is a poet, photographer, mixed media artist and creativity coach. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, After, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019. Judith lives in upstate New York and was a school social worker in an earlier life.

Art: “Wind Spirits” by Sandy Coomer - 36X36, acrylic pour on canvas
Statement: Aunt Carrie’s “wildwoman gene” is moving through the air, swooping down to challenge the women in her family to be authenic and daring women. Despite the sad ending, it is “this” woman who shares her  spirit now.