On the other side of the barbed wire fence
The horizon boasts a doorless entry.
All six-foot-two crawled in from the prairie grass
No hat, no boots, just she.
A sturdy pioneer who withstood dustbowls and hailstorms crossing the plains
She arrived parched and delirious, unable to speak.
She and her story saddle the threshold.
Libby stood gazing at the old homestead
Realizing the most vivid memories evoked were from the days beneath the
canopy Of the oak tree rather than within the walls of her home.
There was an absence of grass beneath the tree from hours spent on the swing.
The tree provided her with the perfect selection of twigs
To draw pictures in the earth, when the dirt was dry and loose.
She recalled swinging over her pictures barefoot
Lightly pressing with each pass, erasing the drawings, the adventures,
While dusting her toes.
The memory of twisting the swing around, shortening it with each turn
Until her feet could no longer touch the ground,
Libby would let loose and look up to see the world flicker and spin above her,
Feeling the thrill in her belly.
Gripping the hemp and leaning back as far as she could, she pumped her legs.
Keeping her eyes shut tight, she drifted into her imaginary world.
With a hand-stitched quilt and a tattered doll the swing was her horse, her carriage.
Did this old house pick me, the one with a limp?
It’s reflective you know.
The porch boards merged with the grass like a bad haircut.
The front door regularly stuck.
Sounds of the squirrels skittering across the roof, slipping into the attic
I could hear them above me while resting on my lumpy mattress.
Nothing too particular here.
In the kitchen, the empty coffee can where we kept loose change
Lays empty on the table with a note scratched in graphite
On the back of an envelope, “gone for eggs”.
You see the cattywampus barn door, the overrated chaise lounge and light seeping
Out of sight, tucked into the beam above your head
An old pickle crock safeguards a pouch made of brain tanned leather
Filled with nuggets from the western slope
Waiting in darkness, for the Alchemist.
February brought a heavy snowfall.
It usually does.
The wandering calf sidled up to the shed
Needing her mother,
While the clan of badgers
When I was a child I would carry the bucket twenty-seven steps to the well.
I would turn it over and stand upon it to reach the pump handle.
Nine times I’d have to pump, to prime the flow.
Two hands and a clenched jaw to carry the sloshing weight.
As the years past, my steps were fewer and my clothes dryer.
This is how I learned to count.
It’s ninety-four outside and still as an empty rocking chair.
Mother insisted on visiting the old vacant homestead to retrieve
A memory or two.
I stamped down the weeds bursting with grasshoppers to clear a path for her.
Holding my arm to steady herself, she tells me the boards above the porch,
The ones splayed like piano keys,
Remind her of the music, the dance and the laughter
That once shook the horsehair lath.
On Saturday nights they‘d open the door and roll up the rugs to create a dance floor
Welcoming folks to celebrate life.
We stood for a reflective moment and I felt her pat my hand
She had relived enough and was ready to go.
The following evening and for many to come
I revisited the old vacant homestead where the door’s still open
And the meadowlark sings
It was her duty to walk with her little brother to and from school
After all, he was only six
She was a lanky eleven, the tallest in her class.
Meandering home, pondering the days lessons
A grasshopper leaped and punched and clung to Sophie’s chest, startling her-
She found herself well ahead of lil Jimmy, out of sight actually.
Home was just ahead of her
Sophie stood frozen, clutching the waist high grass
Curling her toes for a better foothold
Calling for Jimmy
That day in school, she learned the earth spun
What she didn’t know was how fast.
Lessons from Nature
Before my eyes
Sunlight floods the valley, gilding the tabletop
Painting a gold leaf picture.
Blackened stars drop into the silo
Yielding to the sea wall, about to burst.