Catherine of Wolverhampton,
Your people were tin smiths,
They sent you to charity schools,
And you learned your lessons well.
When you were twenty-one,
Thomas Conway enticed you away
Into a wanderer's life, wearing all you owned,
Selling books and gallows ballads,
Bearing him three children--
And though he gave you no ring,
Perhaps the tattooed TC on your
Arm was meant to play the role.
After twenty years or so, you broke apart
From Thomas, took your daughter Annie
and in a lodging house on Flower and Dean,
Soon met John Kelly.
Every year you both went to harvest the hops,
But 1888 wasn't the best year, and you came back
As poor as before.
That September 30th, you were drunk in public
(Yet people knew you to drink rarely),
Taken to the jail cells at the station,
Released as sober, and turned the wrong way,
Passing the gloom of Mitre Square...
Oh, Catherine, how he left you in the shadows!
(And did you truly know his name?)
It horrifies us still today.
We remember you now, with sorrow.
--------------- Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.