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The Girl That Mother Was

From the Newark Evening Star, February 18, 1915. By Nancy Byrd Turner.

When we travel back in summer to the old house by the sea
Where long ago my mother lived, a little girl like me,
I have the strangest notion that she still is waiting there,
A small child in a pinafore, with a ribbon in her hair.
I hear her in the garden when I go to pick a rose;
She follows me along the path on dancing tipsy-toes;
I hear her in the hayloft when the hay is slippery sweet—
A rustle now, a scurry now, a sound of scampering feet;
Yet though I sit as still as still, she never comes to me,
The funny little laughing girl my mother used to be.

Sometimes I nearly catch her as she dodges here and there,
Her white dress fluttering round a tree or flashing up a stair;
Sometimes I almost put my hand upon her apron strings—
Then just before my fingers close, she’s gone again like wings.
A sudden laugh, a scrap of song, a football on the lawn,
And yet, no matter how I run, forever up and gone!
A fairy or a firefly could hardly flit so fast.
When we come home in summer, I’ve given up at last.
Then I lay my cheek on mother’s. If there’s only one for me,
I’d rather have her, anyway, than the girl she used to be!

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