(For Joan Colby in thanks for her poem, “Tom Sawyer“)
Yes, it’s true, Tom married Becky,
became a lawyer, then a judge,
forgot that vibrant youth,
harrumphed and carved the roast
and settled into opinionated age.
But not you, Huck,
weeping over the dark heart of your fellows,
triumphing in goodness over faulty conscience.
They say you lit out for the Territory
but you have had many guises.
I know you re-appeared in Greenwich Village
in the 1960’s with curly long hair,
dreamy eyes and a bag full of songs
about the folly and darkness
of the mighty river of your country.
We need you on your raft again,
writing and singing of all you see.
The King and the Duke are still with us,
lying, cheating, vilely manipulating.
The Shepherdsons and Grangerfords still feud
and the murderous madness of the mob threatens.
Come again, Huck. Re-appear.
We need your truthfulness and your vision.
That at least is a kind of liberty.
Editor’s Note: This poem’s pragmatic tone conveys a world of dark folly (although the last line offers a thread of hope).