In the uneasy warmth of early spring
When the marshes' frogs awake and sing,
When the sun sinks down, the moon a splinter,
And night covers the last foray of winter,
And you're traveling Old Creek Road,
You’re free or with your final load,
Or you're lost or looking to be
As the stones strike off your chassis—
If you're far from home or near
And it's down Old Creek you steer:
I tell you, friend, turn up your song,
Keep on the gas and don’t be long
To leave that dark and lonesome road in dust;
Or maybe once, just if you must,
Peer past the oaks that crowd up at the bend—
Look quickly friend
And then be on your way—
To where the marsh is moonlit like the day;
In the reeds and rotting logs
And the sirens of the frogs
She's watching in her dew- and moon-washed clothes,
A girl whose name I know is Mary Rose.
If you're one without another,
If your other is no more,
And your days each end as they begin
In the home you let your own self in,
You'll brake for her, my brother,
As your hand unlocks her door,
And she hurries to you in the pane
Wrapped in her fading flowered dress,
Just on the pretty side of plain
And just this side of earthliness;
But who she is and where she's from
Or whether she is even there—
No, every pressing question
You'll never think to mention,
For soon, my friend, you're overcome
By all her dear disordered hair,
And in her eyes a grief so pure
You'd give your life to find the cure;
And then she's sitting at your side
And you only want her for your bride,
To steer as far as Old Creek goes
And hold and hold forever, Mary Rose.
She'll thank you and ask for your comb.
She's some winding miles shy of home;
And somewhere near the final turn
She'll grow to sense how much you yearn
And tell you she is spoken for
By Ray who runs her father's store:
Her wedding is a month away.
And then, my friend, what can you say?
At the farmhouse with the one dim pane—
How it seems to brave a driving rain—
She'll touch you once, just on the arm,
Then make her way across the farm
And disappear behind the door
Of the house that is her home no more;
For if you deem within your right
To visit her a second night,
To walk up to the porch alone,
The door is answered by a crone
Whose heart goes out to every son
Whose heart her Mary Rose has won.
"You're not, my son, the first to know
She'd died some thirty years ago."
She was driven home that night in spring
By a man who loved her just as he,
Her handsome boy of promise, Ray,
When their wedding was a month away.
How harsh the guttural wood frogs sing.
The peepers cry so eerily.
Was it love's despair or the April freeze
That veered his truck into the trees,
Then down into the marsh it rolled,
And Earth took both into its fold.
But what of love is ever finished,
And most of all, the unfulfilled?
When to break a heart is such a crime
It rends a bond of space and time,
Love's yearnings live on undiminished
To will on Earth what can't be willed.
And so, my friend, turn up your song
And your eyes keep on the clay and stone,
And only brake where you belong
And leave the ghosts of love alone—
Or become another man who knows
The unrequited heart of Mary Rose.
O Mary Rose. O Mary Rose.
The creek has thawed and overflows.
And though I know my love is fated
To never be reciprocated—
Not once has she remembered me—
I know that I am called to be
On Old Creek Road come early spring
To find her where the wood frogs sing;
And with her heart so broken,
The truth I know I leave unspoken,
And the truth that's only hers in turn
Is truth I never seek to learn.
She combs her dark hair while I steer
And soon I watch her disappear
In the farmhouse with its pane aglow
That lost a last hope years ago;
Then I drive on to the cemetery,
And at her stone beside the winterberry
And among the shadows of the moon
I always pray the Lord will soon—
Oh I pray the Lord will someday close
The tearful searching eyes of Mary Rose.