The Blue Lady of the San Pedro

(Lefty) Bob Sampson

February 15, 2019

On the banks of the San Pedro just upstream from Charleston mill

We bought some land and built a house. It’s where we’re living still.

I’d walk down by the water where the light slipped through the trees

And pass some quiet time there in the cool and gentle breeze.

 

The cottonwoods would whisper, but their voices never clear

Piqued my imagination, secrets just beyond my ear.

I’d read and doze and listen as the Insects flitted by

Then chores would call, I’d head for home beneath a clear blue sky.

 

The evenings do grow shorter as the autumn colors turn

The sun was gone when I awoke. As I was soon to learn,

A plaintive voice had called my name and beckoned me below.

The grasses rustled by the bank. I saw a pale blue glow.

 

I walked down to the water’s edge but nothing there seemed wrong.

While blissful shadows calmly danced, the stream just flowed along.

I turned and climbed back to the house. Whatever had I heard?

I didn’t share the strange event. It seemed just too absurd.

 

Yet the feeling was quite vivid and it held my restless mind,

Intruding on my day, I couldn’t leave the thoughts behind

The fall turned into springtime. Desert flowers soon appeared.

My walks now had a purpose as I looked for something weird.

 

I’d linger past the sunset, listen closely to each sound.

With senses finely tuned aware of everything around.

Days turned into weeks with no companion but the breeze,

But then I heard a soulful cry that brought me to my knees.

 

I’ll swear I heard, “Where are you?”, and it sounded like a girl.

I turned and saw that pale blue glow. My head was in a whirl.

I bolted through the brambles to the gravel just below

But all I found were riffles from the river’s steady flow.

 

The water’s path was straight. Downstream I saw the Charleston Bridge.

The angles of its structure just outlined against the ridge.

Beyond, along the eastern bank were remnants of the mill

That processed Tombstone ore so long ago but now lay still.

 

And on the near side past the bridge old Charleston had once thrived.

The thought of life there filled my head, though little has survived.

Its hard and wicked history brought me wonder as a child.

The stories of the silver boom, so thrilling and so wild.

 

There must be ghosts a-plenty wandering ‘round this lonely place

But I had never dreamed that I might see one face to face.

It was time to do some research. Did a specter wander near?

I felt a sort of kinship for whatever brought me here.

 

I searched through local writings ‘bout the heroes, villains too,

Who’d lived their lives and met their fates, with deeds of derring-do,

Unsolved mysteries, tales of woe, and dreams that just went bust.

The Territory took its toll. Of that, we surely trust.

 

One story made me shiver of a man crushed in the mill.

His widow and young daughter set adrift to starve until

She joined a local brothel. Yes, It seemed the only way

To feed them both, but at what cost? Such torment, night and day.

 

The daughter took to playing down along San Pedro’s race

A spring flood must have got her for she vanished, left no trace.

It broke the mother’s courage as she searched the river bank

From dawn to dusk and back till dawn and while she searched she drank.

 

One morning someone found her. Her blue apron was her noose

She’d hanged herself from Charleston Bridge and turned her spirit loose.

I finished reading this sad tale and knew that I had found

That tortured spirit searching for her lost child who had drowned.

 

Some fifty years has passed now since I saw that pale blue glow

I still spend time each evening gazing ‘cross San Pedro’s flow.

I speak to her of peace and comfort, hope she understands.

The effort leaves me feeling that somehow they’re in God’s hands.

© 2019 by Bob Sampson

This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.