These Were Winds
At first there was no alarm; these were winds
And high prairie farms had learned to hold tight
Against gale force blizzards and tornado;
Replanting, repairing after each storm,
‘Rain Follows the Plow’, the golden promise
For European settlers flush with land,
Planting in familiar ways of home,
Trusting tradition and the land agents.
Dark clouds in western skies dangled promise,
Sweet, saving rain just before they vanished,
Leaving naught but crackled fields and static.
Rainmen appeared, showers promised, for cash;
Farmers paid, desperate now, this new spring,
Watching hard-earned savings sowed into clouds;
Circus planes driven by clowns peddling hope
O’er bare fields, empty barns, forsaken dreams.
These were winds, curdled harvests of heartache,
Hot summer winds, bleaching pastures, hayfields,
Blowing dusty “heys” from Oklahoma;
Bitter winter gales, driving snow upward
To dance with black Colorado topsoil.
Four years of wind blowing down future’s dream,
Delivering drought, death and foreclosure;
Desperate winds ringing funeral bells.
[I grew up on stories of the 1930’s ‘Dust Bowl’ reaching the Dakotas in the last few years
of this devastating phenomena. My mother’s family lost everything; my father’s family
held on, and rebuilt. When the winds finally abated, farming methods were modified and
adapted to protect the topsoil, but the damage was done. Farming would no longer be
merely plowing up the land, seeding and expecting rain. Farming became a risk, a hope, a
prayer. The strong, the faithful, the fortunate remained on the land. The broken, the
faint-hearted, the hopeless were swept away.]
Copyright © deb radke | Year Posted 2011
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