They always said she was
the first American white woman
to cross the Santa Fe Trail.
I suppose she was,
setting her little foot into
that carriage and dashing off.

I was there, too.

I served her faithfully,
snatched her back when she
almost stepped on a snake,
bathed her forehead, boiled the water
and cried at Bent's Fort
that sad day she lost her child.

We laughed together, filled our arms
with spring wildflowers on the
boundless Plains and
hung strips of buffalo meat
to dry by the Arkansas.

Ah yes, she was the first white woman
to cross the Santa Fe Trail
but I was there, too,
yet my great-great-grandchildren
won't even know my name.

*Inspired by Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846-1847 (Stella M. Drumm. ed., University of Nebraska Press, August 1982).

Jane was Susan Shelby Magoffin's maid. She was known in Magoffin's journal only as Jane. 

Originally published in  Wagon Tracks, The Santa Fe Trail Association Quarterly, February 1998

Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a former psychology researcher/writer/editor/lecturer who has turned to writing short stories and poetry. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has been published in numerous anthologies, journals, and internet magazines including The Tule Review, Phoebe, Visions International, Manzanita Quarterly, Midwest Poetry Review, Nanny Fanny, mélange journal,  FZQ. She co-edited River Voices: Poets of Butte, Shasta, Tehama and Trinity Counties, California. Her latest chapbook is Don't Turn Away: Poems About Breast Cancer and she recently edited Labyrinth: Poems & Prose. She lives on a creek in rural northern California, USA, with her husband and two cats.

Read Patricia's
A Lark for Susan
Reluctant Remittance Man