Sunday, August 4, 2013


Mary Townsend Ratcliffe, Marshall County, Spring 1859

Spring has returned to the prairie.
The sky is a beautiful cornflower blue,
the air still more cool than hot,
and my family is happy and healthy.

John plows like he’s cutting glass,
absorbed in the precision of his work,
stopping only to run
the black soil through his hands.
I tend to the garden,
pick daffodils and jonquils—
narcissus poeticus and jonquilla—
to brighten up the kitchen.

Tonight, when the boys are asleep,
John and I will go down to the creek
and wash the day’s toils from each other.