In the rugged Appalachian hills,
the month of May brings cold comfort
to a girl stricken with consumption.
At sixteen, she is the sweetest of the sisters,
neither vain nor vindictive. An old photo
shows eyes tired and haunted. The rattle
in her lungs is a death sentence.
Late spring comes to the mountains,
bringing with it the scourge of influenza.
Already weakened, her body is felled
in only four days. The country doctor
pronounces her dead at half past seven
in the evening. She is buried the next day.
Her family, ever transient, will soon depart,
leaving her to lie in the ground among strangers.