Her Story of Why
These are her stories of why; the sad excuses of mother's life;
Her oft-honed chip, accented with her mother's old mink stole,
Tears most lovely in her eyes as she spoke of the beautiful farm;
Telling of the hundreds of acres owned by her mother’s father;
Land-granted, debt-free paradise; all they needed pay were quarterly taxes.
She told of the day the winds began to blow, that hot summer day;
Blowing away the moisture-filled clouds, drying the ground into cracked layers.
She told of bitter cold winter days, snow blown back into the clouds by the wind;
Pastures dry-freezing, blasted by cold winds from the west;
Kitchen gardens covered with old sheets in a futile effort to protect them.
She told of spring days with no rain, summer days with no rain;
Hot winds surging into bare, bleached pastures; cattle choking on thistles;
Government purchases of the remaining cow-shaped, walking skeletons;
Beloved horses loaded into rail cars bound for St. Paul stock yards,
Purchased by the army for $3 a head -- 75 cents per glue-filled hoof.
She told of morning rituals of scraping dirt from red, itching eyes;
Scraping grit from the butter dish; scraping melted mud from the ice box;
Lifting dusty scum from the milk bottles; rinsing dusty scum from mouth rags.
She told of the day the sky turned black, burying the farm in Colorado topsoil
And shovels were needed to dig open the doors of the barn and house.
She told of two years with no crops, two years of blowing dirt;
Two years with no rain, no snow, diffused sunlight, beautiful sunsets;
So much electricity in the air, in the ground, running from roof to wire,
Men would wrap their hands in pieces of cloth before they touched
The handles of their cars, lest they be thrown to the ground from the static.
She told of the day the wind finally began to falter, coming now in fits and starts;
And her grandfather stood on his once-proud porch, looking upon his lands,
Finally seeing through clean, clear air the farm he would soon no longer own.
Taxes unpaid, liens placed on farms, on equipment, on promises;
She told of how unable to pay the tax, he was forced to let it go.
She told of her birth in a migrant camp in Washington state; the one room shack.
Born with the eyes of desperation looking on; born into grief and sorrow.
Her legacy set before her as she drew her first breath; born into failure and futility.
She told us these stories, eyes shining with tears, pride in her fated failure.
She told us these stories with her head held high. These suffering stories of why.
Copyright © deb radke | Year Posted 2011
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