Tuesday, April 21, 2020

April 21: Tribute to a Soddy

"Come with me," he said.
"We'll move out to the Great Plains.
We'll have our own place,
a long way from all this."

She said yes. They bundled up
their belongings, and,
carrying what they could,
walked west,
too poor to take a train.
They hitched a ride,
filed papers in Lincoln, Nebraska,
grateful for the Homestead Act of 1862
and 160 acres.

By then, she was pregnant.
He built her a soddy out there,
dirt floor, sod blocks for walls,
one window to look out
at the stretch of endless, rolling grasslands,
coveted by ranchers.
"We have to stay five years,"
he said, dirt ingrained in his hands.
"Five years, the wheat will grow.
We'll be all right."

Remember those men and women
of the plains, and their sod cabins.
Many didn't know how to farm,
there were failures,
and then the cattle came.
But some persevered, facing
isolation and years of work
for a dream of something better.

A sod house, called a soddy (Wikipedia)
Great Plains near Lincoln, Nebraska (Wikipedia)

Robert Lee Brewer's poetry prompts for National Poetry Month always take me someplace unexpected. Today's prompt (influenced by our current preoccupation with coronavirus), asked writers to write a love poem or an anti-love poem.

My poem began when I thought it must take more than love to follow your man out to the Great Plains and live in a soddy. When I went looking for images, I found this lovely photo of a sod house and another of the Great Plains -- near Lincoln, Nebraska, where my grandfather once lived. He was a cowboy.


  1. Oh, oh, OH! Such a BEAUTIFUL and evocative poem. I love it!

    1. Thank you! I'm especially grateful for the comforts we have at home just now. Hope you are safe and well.