12 March 2007, common era
Surrounded by family, censed with love, pain, and tears,
the weary patriarch leaves life for eternity even as the
morning sun in ruby-red glory rises above yet fallow fields.
Styrofoam coffee cups in hand, the Cenex regulars
talk of spring calving and the price of winter wheat
while outside, on the streets of town, passing trucks
crush the leavings of winter’s snow and ice.
Walkers navigate a topography of silt-laden run-off,
in bitter reminder of Lent’s somber, ashen warning
that all, yes all creation, returns to earth.
Later, by a windswept grave off County Road 1
parents bury again the memory three years past of
black ice and a daughter, an almost bride, lost to life.
Pink roses and birdsong counterpoint their mourning
while beyond the evergreen sway, across snow-melt pastures,
children’s laughter and playground fancy signal another grief—
a school called this night to greet its own death justified
by declining numbers, increasing cost and board vote.
Meanwhile the price of diesel rises and reality rubs raw
against the advent of soil and seed turning.
Such is this March day on the Dakota prairie.
Weatherbeaten winter and hopeful spring dance,
unsteady partners in time’s gaited passage.
Sturdy stock, these good Norwegian folk
will brush away the mud, disregard the chill,
and go on resolute, backs to the wind, chins set
against the howl of life.