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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,

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.

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.

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

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.