House of Little Boy Blue, St. Louis

We think we’ve seen everything
but there’s always one more.
Sixteen Presidential dwellings,
Abe Lincoln’s law office,
the grave of Jimi Hendrix.
We drove up and down
the streets of Fall River, Massachusetts,
looking for the unprepossessing clapboard house
where Lizzie Borden gave her parents
eighty one whacks between them.
Last year alone, Poe died, Grant farmed,
Tom Sawyer watched while ten kids
painted a Hannibal fence.

And now here we are,
climbing up stairs
into more of the past:
an old brick building on what was Walsh’s row,
once owned by Pierre Laclede,
founder of Saint Louis.
Eugene Field lived here,
newspaper columnist and poet,
at least to those for whom
“Wynken, Blynken and Nod” is poetry.
This is the bed he slept in,
the den he wrote in.
His voice resounds from a rickety tape recorder,
reciting “Little Boy Blue.”
It’s one more day
when we  poke around in the deeds of others.
The great, the good, and the almost forgotten…
even when dead,
they all have to live somewhere.

—John Grey, Providence, RI