Prairie Poetry   
  The Bench

We found the bench
In the water at the river’s edge
Left there by the Indians,
Santee Sioux, who fished from it.

A pew abandoned,
Even wet, each oaken piece
Was strong and sturdy.

It sat at Daddy’s office
Out in front for years,
And then it found its way
To our front porch, bright yellow
Now, a golden spot on our farm,
Half section that my mother bought.

When they built the big new house
Paid for with almost all the land,
The bench moved, too.

And now it’s gone and makes
Me think if we had left it there
It would have made the trip
From the clear, cold Niobrara
To the Missouri, ever muddy
And on into the Mississippi River

Like the carved canoe
In Paddle to the Sea
Daddy read to me
And traced the trip
Through each Great Lake
With his surgeon’s hand, steady, safe

That was his way
Of touching me; he didn’t
Know he could reach right out
So, instead, his finger followed
All the water on those pages,

Love welling up and overflowing
Out and through each waterway
And on into my heart.

  Alexandra J. McClanahan
  Copyright © 2004 Alexandra J. McClanahan
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