Winds of Desperation
She tells the story with tears in her eyes: Her family's farm, largest farm in the county;
Land-granted, debt-free paradise; all they needed pay were quarterly taxes;
She tells of how one hot summer day, the wind began to blow,
Blowing away moisture-filled clouds, drying the ground into crackled layers.
She tells of bitter winter days, snow blowing back into the clouds,
Pastures dry-freezing, blasted by cold winds from the northwest.
She tells of hot winds scorching pastures; starving cattle choking on thistles;
Government agencies purchasing the remaining cow-shaped, walking skeletons;
She tells of 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 tells of scraping grit from the butter dish; scraping mud from the ice box;
Of lifting dusty scum from the milk bottles; rinsing dusty scum from mouth rags.
She tells of two years with no crops, two years of blowing dirt;
Two years with no rain, no snow; two years of diffused sunlight, beautiful sunsets;
She tells of 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.
Her voice lowers as she tells of the day the wind finally faltered, then died away.
She tells of the day her grandfather stood on his once-proud porch,
Finally able seeing through clean, clear air, the farm he would soon no longer own.
Taxes unpaid, liens placed on farms, on equipment, on promises; 'sheriff's sale' posted;
Her tears fall as she tells of how he was forced to let it go, to give it up;
She tells of her birth, ten years later, in a migrant shack in Washington state;
She says history sealed her desperate legacy before she ever had a chance.
Copyright © deb radke | Year Posted 2011
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