The winter rain came down in sheets,
Drenching the fields, and flooding the streets,
Driven by winds that howled and screamed,
Like the nightmarish plot of a devil’s dream!
Oh, pity the soul without warmth of friends,
With no one to care if his life might end,
And without the clothing to keep him warm,
And no place of shelter from the awful storm.
Now a policeman’s work is hard, indeed,
For he deals first hand with those in need;
The outcasts, the bewildered, with no home or friends,
With little to eat, and no money to spend!
From his prowler car, that wintry night,
A policeman spied a form so slight,
Huddled against a building there,
Seeking protection from the cold night air.
Probably a drunk, who is full of wine,
Or a beggarly bum, without a dime –
But wait: There was something about that form,
That caught his eye in the relentless storm.
For he saw a face, so thin and white,
Like a ghost, he thought, in the dim street light,
So pinched, and drawn, with a look forlorn,
And he noticed her clothing, ragged and torn.
At the station house, she was warmed and fed,
And she looked like one who’d returned from the dead.
Then with raspy voice, she began to tell,
Of the life she’d had in that living hell.
Terrible things began to unfold,
From the lips of this lady, now tired and old;
Of the filth and neglect she had suffered there,
With no one to help, and no one to care.
She had begged many times, to once more see the home,
Where she and her husband had lived all alone,
For they’d been so happy, in those years now gone by,
Before a dread sickness had caused him to die!
No relative had visited her, no one ever came,
She had felt like a pawn, unloved, and unclaimed!
If just once again she could see the old place —
And visit again with a warm, friendly face.
That night, she’d escaped, and struck out on her own,
But that’s not so easy, when you’re old and alone!
Then the rain storm had struck: And she’d lost her way,
She was sick, and confused, just an old castaway!
Her old voice grew weak, a doctor was called;
She’d forgotten her name — she couldn’t recall!
Death came to her rescue, that cold winter night,
And she joined her old sweetheart, in that City, so bright!
“The Castaway” is one of many poems and stories written by Robert F. Knapp (1913-1994) in the 1970-80s. Usually his stories were of his childhood adventures in northern Wisconsin or of working the waterways of Washington State in the early days of the state’s history. All of these stories were part of his work in a creative writing class he took through a community adult education program, so they cover a wide range of writing styles and subjects. We are honored to share his wonderful writing and storytelling talent with you as these tell us so much about the man himself.
Most Recent Articles by Robert F. Knapp (1913-1994)
- Poem: Evenin' by Robert Knapp
- Poem: The Little Kids (Robert and Wayne Knapp)
- Knapp Family: Our Introduction to the West in 1930
- Poem: The Good and the Bad by Robert Knapp
- The 1967 Trip Back to Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin