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.