Prairie Poetry   
  Sandstone House

John Joseph Mathews built the sandstone house
on his allotment, some five hundred acres of blackjacks
and red dirt.  A stone house centered on a grand fireplace
not for warmth, but for the fire’s cycles of life
reaching out to the prairie in all directions from its core.
I meet him passing through pages of old stories
about stray cattle, Arctic cold dropping in from the North,
and an old tree he can’t cut down for its beauty.  Symptoms of age
and sometimes, regret, strewn with a planetary melancholy,
an Oklahoma longing for a place as settled as those of his stones. 
John moves back into the earth at a point where the wind
and the dry plains coalesce, and finds his place in weather
which makes him think of the cycles of life, the reason
he's returned.  I see the sandstone house on his ridge as an eye
of the storm, where the land reaches up.  He's its offering.
The house is not small but complete in a room, a space
that lends itself to the body.  The inside like the outside
not fully arranged.  The windows are always open to wind.
The house sins only in its failed invisibility.  He identifies
the trees that have outlasted the fires, outlasted the men, Osage,
who sat under them, who fought with the French against Washington,
outlasted the storms, the scavenging for fuel, all to this day
and are now dying.  That was back in forty-five.  And yet here,
somehow, his space survives, his sandstone house flush with the sun. 

  George Moore
  Copyright © 2008 George Moore
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