Ann Hassletine Judson’s Letter to Her Parents in America

Ann Hasseltine Judson’s Letter to Her Parents in America
Renee Emerson

Your first grandchild was born in the rolling of a ship
at sea, and dead was given
to the sea, a water-creature of salt and darkness.

I gave myself to Burma
even more than Adoniram.
To the straw huts, and
children, cigars jutting from their mouths,
to the lepers, skin peeling like paper,
to women I doused in muddy water,
brought up again into a new life
that looked so much like the last.

Your second grandchild was born in the hut,
beneath the Buddhist statues, beside the slow flowing
river. He lived eight months, long enough
for me to believe something
in this life is lasting.

At the end, my hair shaven,
husband in prison, my third born
daughter sailing steadily toward
death, our North Star,

I still think it worthwhile
to speak the word of God
in a new tongue, though
it burns like holy fire.