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Susanna Strickland Moodie

(1803 - 1885 / Canada)

The Step Mother


Well I recall my Father's wife,
The day he brought her home.
His children looked for years of strife,
And troubles sure to come --
Ungraciously we welcomed her,
A thing to scorn and blame;
And swore we never would confer
On her, a Mother's name

I see her yet -- a girl in years,
With eyes so blue and mild;
She greeted us with smiles and tears,
How sweetly too she smiled --
She bent to kiss my sullen brow,
With woman's gentle grace;
And laid her tiny hand of snow
On my averted face --

"Henry -- is this your son? She said --
"Dear boy -- he now is mine --
What not one kiss? --" I shook my head,
"I am no son of thine! --"
She sighed -- and from her dimpled cheek
The rosy colour fled;
She turned away and did not speak,
My thoughts were with the dead --

There leaped from out my Father's eyes
A jet of swarthy fire;
That flashed on me in fierce surprise --
I fled before his ire
I heard her gentle voice entreat --
"Forgiveness for her sake" --
Which added swiftness to my feet,
A sad and strange mistake --

A year had scarcely rolled away
When by that hated bride;
I loved to linger half the day,
In very joy and pride;
Her voice was music to mine ear,
So soft its accent fell;
"Dear Mother now" -- and oh, how dear
No words of mine can tell --

She was so gentle, fair and kind,
So pure in soul and free from art;
That woman with her noble mind,
Subdued my rebel heart --
I just had learned to know her worth,
My Father's second choice to bless;
When God removed her from the earth,
And plunged us all in deep distress --

Hot fever smote with burning blight
Stretchd on a restless bed of pain;
I moaning lay from morn till night
With aching limbs and throbbing brain --
Four weary weeks beside my bed,
She sat within a darkened room;
Untiring held my aching head,
Nor heeded silence -- cold and gloom --

And when my courage quite gave way,
And fainter grew my struggling breath;
She taught my stricken soul to pray
And calmly meet approaching death --
"Fear not God's angel, sent by Him,
The weary spirit to release;
Before the mortal eyes grow dim,
Floats down the white winged dove of peace" --

There came a change -- but fingers small,
No longer smoothed my matted hair;
She sprang not to my feeble call,
Nor helped to lift me to my chair --
And I arose as from the dead,
A life for her dear life was given;
The angel who had watched my bed
Had vanished into Heaven! --

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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