Today April begins with 45 degree temps and a cutting wind. Tonight we are to see rain and some snow after an Easter Sunday in the 60s with beautiful sun. The yo-yo of weather in March makes it a lesser month in my mind. But April…even with chill and drizzle, allows me to see beyond to nicer weather coming. April is a hopeful month!
April is also National Poetry Month, a month long recognition of poetry that I have always enjoyed. Since I have been neglecting poetry a bit, I welcomed a reminder to pull out a few poetry books. Today I wanted to read in a middle school book of poems about color. Darned if I can find it! But this is nothing new as I loan or give away so many books; I never am sure what I will find on my own shelves.
While searching, I came across a copy of Grist, 2011, a publication of the Missouri State Poetry Society. As often is the case with books, I find an old acquaintance or a new friend as I search my own shelves. I pulled out the volume and began to read, only to surprise myself with my own work. I had forgotten the poem Nicodemus had been printed there! Writer pals, does this ever happen to you?
Nicodemus, Kansas is an all-Black town founded after the Civil War when former slaves moved West. I passed through only once and was unlucky enough to find the museum at this National Historic Site closed. The people that settled there had to fight Mother Nature out on that wind-beaten prairie. The first winter they had to dig holes in the earth and live there until spring. Once a thriving community after the people managed to build it up, the berg now is a failing collection of clapboard houses. There is so much history here and I am inspired by the story of the people who settled here.
Like dark-faced Vikings, they arrived from the East,
Navigating over tall grass prairie and short grasses
Curled tight resembling their own nappy hair.
Conestoga wagons, buckboards, mules, and feet
Lumbered across the plains, heading for new lands.
Gone from sight were plentiful trees, craggy cliffs,
Recognizable deep dredged rivers.
Moving into a new and unproven state,
Bringing their own fresh freedom along,
Dark men carrying only hymns, hope, and hands
Callused by sharecropping, working other men’s ground.
Journey ceased where horizon stroked the sky,
Stopping in the middle of nowhere some said.
They burrowed deep and hunkered into earth,
The soil serving as their only shelter.
Then set to work, breaking sod with plow and sweat,
They begged a living from the prairie’s heart,
Living free in a new hamlet to be called home.
Do you read Poetry? Have a favorite Poet or