This grass-filled hole in the ground
is more a slight depression,
half the size of a grave.
A hundred twenty years ago
a widow and three sons homesteaded here.
Their world was beautiful.
Snow-capped mountains to the west.
An infinite prairie in every other direction.
Just a quarter mile east
a line of cottonwoods marks a small ephemeral creek.
A fading trail meanders down the ridge to the creek,
showing where they hauled water
those first years.
The woman boiled strong coffee
every morning for her family
in that rusted kettle sitting there
half hidden in the grass.
She washed dishes
in that porcelain pan
that’s lying upside down
shot full of bullet holes.
when work was done,
she sipped dandelion tea
from that shattered china cup.
The two rusted snarls of barbed wire over there
kept their milk cow out of her vegetable garden.
Did drought leave them no garden,
the mule and cattle dead,
unable to “proof” their claim?
Or did an arctic blizzard overwhelm them,
unable to pull water from the frozen well,
unable to retrieve food from the root cellar,
unable to save their animals and themselves?
Where did they go?
Why did they go?
Their sod home long melted into the prairie,
leaving only a tea kettle,
a porcelain pan,
a shattered china cup,
a roll of wire,
and a slight depression in the prairie
to mark their passage.