The Washerwoman

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Marble Springs 2.0 screenshot of The Washerwoman

What we know

Name unknown. Origin unknown.
A street woman who traversed a circular path along the Crystal River Valley, completing one circuit during each summer month. She was seen regularly in Marble Springs from 1900 until 1929 when she was found dead behind the White Owl.

The Washerwoman

There were rumors, of course.
Some said she’d been a washerwoman
for the Confederates.
Others guffawed at this—
she’d been left behind
after the Spanish-American War.
But what about that man they saw once—
talking to her—
a mulatto with green eyes.

Her own were as brown as her feet,
bare under the scars of a cotton skirt
the grey of cut cliffs.
Grass stalks of hair
clumped across her sweaty back.
Edna said they see her in Schofield,
Redstone, and Carbondale right regular.

She will come again
on the last day of the month.
Stay three days and move on.
She will disappear
after the snow falls,
coming back in the second thaw
to breakfast over scraps behind the White Owl.
Emmy always was careful to short
the Christmas hog
during the last week of the month.

Pastor Horner sees her
three, four times a year
'pending on his route.
Then he leads the pews into song
about misfortunes of devils
who drink whiskey1 and dance.
Though nobody has ever seen her dance.

Zandra Miller steadfastly maintains
it was a broken love affair,
and gives her old knitted shawls every fall.
Rachel Cole keeps her distance.

You can hear her now
in the moonlight
shaking her empty fist into the hills.





Portal caption and links

A woman walking in hills with her fist upraised.
There are 12 transparent button overlaid on the picture
Martha Stokes, who stayed invisible.
the church, which was too far away to be reached
Towee Pitkin, who can not reclaim this hill
Millie Horner, who longs to go to this hill
Peggy Dagmar, who also lost to these hills
Bridget O’Shanty, who knew why she was angry
Pastor Horner, who did not know why she was angry.
Rebecca Reaver, who swayed her hips.
Rachel Cole, who took no one to her breast.
Zandra Miller, who saw her scars.
Marble Springs, whose dust she shook from her feet.

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