to and from her house,
to and around town,
at rivers' and ocean's edges
people counted the way they had come to know her:
Her grandchild almost drowned fishing for the big
salmon with her, how the love of fishing took her grandmother
to other states
to major and minor rivers
catching, cleaning, canning salmon.
She played bridge with younger women
and didn't mind losing, they all said. She just
loved playing the game.
I knew her as the beauty queen of Thomasville,
a small detail she shared when I told her how
I had come to teach at Thomasville
decades after she had left it
and how I had two beauty queens in my freshman class
two beauty queens who had to get A's in their classes
to be able to transfer back to the college of
of their choice.
I would have said, if I had spoken, that she still
walked like a beauty queen after all those decades
the one detail I would have contributed
knowing her as I did,
a woman with beauty, and pride, and by chance
a title that connected the two of us.