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Prairie Roots

Prairie Dawn

burns away night mist
pollen shimmers overhead
fuses with the sun



The Props Assist the House
~Emily Dickinson
Ray will raise a house
to bind his coming marriage.
A foundation to build a family,
lacking and longed for since young.

He affirms its pattern on the earth
marked by snapped chalk cord between stakes,
umbilical cut beneath the prairie’s frost line,
support pillars forged of poured cement.

Ray lays down something of himself
into this house, and the earth and wood and stone
give force of their own back into Ray;
life of his household, the center, begins.

Brick by brick the foundation rises, flat flush
sills support thick struts spanning walls.
Ray positions floor joists across these beams,
bracing each, entwined trunks, a tree of life.

Marguerite teaches in a one-room school
two miles out of town, passing daily, she sees
skeleton frame and fireplace climb, her spirit
leavened the way yeast ferments bread.

Lumber is stretched straight prior to use,
measured twice, cut once. The frame will hold
its weight, bend but not break, expand in heat,
shrink in cold, keep together as one.

Ray feels the wood’s grain. Gauging age and life,
he does not let this spark die, letting live wood
guide his hands and tools, channeling
its spirit into the house as he builds.

Marguerite sees her home boughs thicken,
canopy roof rising toward heaven.
Ray, still yearning, climbs scaffolding,
nailing a cottonwood branch on the peak.

They toast with sweet cider, crisp
tang of ripe apples fresh off the tree.
Hand in hand they climb the stairs,
cross the porch to the front door.