Lew Welch


Our Lady of Refused Love

Sometimes Margaret's mind,

while she sipped a single brandy
or stitched after dinner on a dress she'd bought,

would drift on back through
all of Life and Time

since first our cells slid mindlessly
in hot

and ancient Seas,


and then, before her inner eye, it soon began
to writhe and crawl upon the land

take to the trees and up on out of them
or live in them and
climb back down again, dully

staring at a broken stick and a
sharpened piece of stone,


until attention fixed at last upon the complicated
the needlework
her fingers, hands, her thighs her


wherein she lived a clean strong life




The figure of Margaret came from a waitress in a Wisconsin resort, a young girl of such strong beauty I bewailed the vision I had of her certain loneliness. No man could stand against her strident health, her total ability to love if loved enough in return.

Originally the poem was to be the final paragraph (sentence) in a short story where Margaret, the virgin at the resort, got laid young, then became a nurse in World War II, fell in love with a crazy army psychiatrist, returned to the U. S. (after seeing her love for the doctor fail) and then fell in love with a real freak of a civilian doctor, and finally, now nearing 40, had resigned herself to a lonely, but productive, nursing life.

There was a passage in the story where the author speculated on the excellence of Margaret in pioneer days whereas today she is too powerful to be useful.

I never wrote that story and I'm glad.