Day 10 & 11: Roughing It

So…I did a bunch of free-writing yesterday that I wouldn’t exactly call poetry, but today, when the power was out for three hours, I used some of that language to fashion a little narrative. Could this be a series? Hmmm…  Either way, I am counting this for days 10 and 11. (Don’t tell the poetry police.) Feedback welcome, as always.

The Pioneer Wife Glimpses Her Possible Fate

Dusk. At the edge of the clearing, I gather roots

to boil for medicine, my cough lingering for days,

each spasm wrenching my growing middle from

rib to hip. My foot slips on the half-buried skull

of some animal. I pry it free, puzzle the shattered

pieces into a shape I recognize. Poor thing. She

was not buried deep enough. I look for a marker,

some sign that she was missed. I cross myself.


The light is fading, so I rush back for a lantern,

return and sit, stroke the crown of her head,

what would have been the line of her jaw. This

life is not for the weak. I wonder how long she

tended this land, foraged these woods, huddled

in a threadbare shawl near a dying fire. Did

she too keep dead mice buried in a hatbox just

in case the traps hold no meat, the fish goes bad?


I pick up a spade, ignore the pressure building

in my lungs. When my husband returns from

the river, traps empty, lines empty, he rushes

to relieve me, turns his face from my sobbing

and continues as I head inside. I fill the kettle

and place it on the fire, stir in bark and roots

that steam remedy. I cough again and my skull

teeters, a pitcher tipping on the highest shelf.



2 thoughts on “Day 10 & 11: Roughing It

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