2019 – Fourteen – “The Other Place” From Prompt 17, Hour 14

I sometimes go back to the beginning,
to the Sandhills
where I was born,
wild expanses of Nebraska prairie
where I don’t have to speak.
Where no one is left of those
who had known my name.
There is a windmill
and the ruins of a sod house
on the far hill,
I played there as a child,
not knowing that it was
to my grandfather
what his house was to me.
The road is long gone now,
washed down into the valley,
being sand,
and the bricks of the soddy
are just lines in the dirt.
I park my car behind the old barn
near the old Hollibaugh farm
and follow the old ruts.
For a mile they
run, weaving across
the valley floor,
past the rusting ruins
of the cars my grandfather
bought to fill in a ditch.
Wrecks with shot-out
old windows and
flecks of old chrome
leering up out of the ground
beneath the cottonwood trees
in the dry, hot day.
At last at the crest of the hill
the rattle and thunk
of the windmill calls me
over the locked gate
and up to the tank
and I stop to drink from
the blood of the land
that flows
at the call of the wind.
Though I do not love
city life and would leave if
I could,
until I can, which I cannot,
there is a place where I can go
and drink and be still
in the haze of the prairie,
I know that that old mill
and the ruins of the house
will always welcome me back
unlike the city,
the land knows you, even when you’re lost.

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