Abigail Adams Decides, July 1776
She wrote her husband afterward. Why plague
the man in Philadelphia when she
knew what was best? And packed for her campaign,
she steered the kids and cow to family
in Boston. The Royalists were gone, her home
relinquished, but before she saw to that –
the smallpox inoculation: with knife honed,
the doctor lanced the living victim, scratched
and scraped his pus to fill their open cuts.
She set her youngest down and took the lead,
laid bare her arm. She didn't flinch but once.
With her curt nod, they all rolled up their sleeves.
Survive they did, and she reclaimed their house –
vanquished the roosting chickens, then rented it out.
Marybeth Rua-Larsen lives in Massachusetts, and her poems, flash fiction and reviews have been published widely, most recently in Magma and Orbis. She won the Luso-American Fellowship for the DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal and was a Hawthornden International Fellow in Scotland in 2019.