Old Prairie House

The kids and I attended a Living History event today, which inspired me to search out some meaningful Native American poetry. I listened to Diane Glancy speak once in Minnesota. Here is part of a poem that holds extra meaning for me since I am often wondering about the relation between actual old houses and what they mean to people. I live in one of those old houses, and I don’t often feel the memories, all those lives that have taken place on the same floorboards I tread daily. But other people, strangers to me, they feel I live in a very important, very special house. And so I feel irreverent and disrespectful. But, I reason, if it weren’t for good old practical me and my need for a place to live, this house would be disintegrating, unlived-in. So what is better? Disrespecting an old house’s past by living in the present, or letting an old house go neglected so its memories can live on more potently?

Anyway, here is the last part of the poem that speaks partly to this issue:

Survival of facade
when content does not endure
one part has nothing to do with the others
all is hollow
but house still stands on prairie
customs still leap on points
of delicate prairie grass
where the bright bauble of the eye
blinked once too often.

— from “Old Prairie House Between Tulsa and Bartlesville on US 75” by Diane Glancy, 1986


One of my poems, “At the Lighthouse,” is published in Kindred magazine, issue 10! You can find out more about the magazine here. It is a print magazine, and I greatly look forward to receiving my copy in the mail because I love the premise of this magazine: “a lit mag that honors the power of story to bring people together. Kindred embraces the messy, the meaningful, the people, and places we hold near and dear to our hearts.”


Harvest at La Crau, with Montmajour in the Background, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
Harvest at La Crau, with Montmajour in the Background, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Did you know that Van Gogh has a series of these wheat field paintings? Wheat is arguably the most beautiful crop grown here in Wisconsin. In my area, corn, soybeans and hay are more abundant, but I love wheat for its gold shimmery color at harvest time. It has a texture somewhere between wavy fabric and the sea, and yet it doesn’t lose its sense of individual wheat stalks, piles and piles of wheat stalks growing close together. Well, I’m not satisfied with my description of it. It’s something for poetry. I’ve used wheat in poems before, and I will probably keep trying to put in words what I know to be true.

A daily Satan-smashing assignment

Here is a small portion of the Bible that I never read before with the intention of getting personal meaning from it:

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

–Luke 10:17-20

Here’s what I learned on Sunday: We are in the era of Satan’s collapse. The kingdom of God is advancing. Christians overcome their enemies by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Preaching the word is a humbling exercise: treading on serpents and scorpions (wouldn’t we rather be saving endangered sea turtles or discovering new birds in the rainforest?). Serpents and scorpions are venomous; however, Jesus already delivered the head-blow to the serpent. Satan is rendered harmless. What we experience is the wrath of angry Satan because he couldn’t take down the Lamb he wanted. Even if the enemy gets our dead bodies, it doesn’t get us. God is in control, and He has no intention of losing His people to the enemy. Be comforted in belonging to a faithful Savior.

Break, break, break

Break, break, break
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1834

It’s a sad sort of poem, but helpful at the same time for striking at the thoughts welling up in my own soul that I want my own tongue to utter.

they see everywhere and all the time

We elders are never safe. A child’s eyes are ubiquitous. They see everywhere and all the time, but it is only at some small crisis in his life that the child’s knowledge takes shape even in thought.

— from Formation of Character by Charlotte Mason

Another Charlotte Mason book study, another day more impressed with the personhood of children. To really think about your own children as individual people is to come upon this immense responsibility. Children are a loan, entrusted to us, their parents. We are not their creators, nor do we have the ability to control their minds. They see me all the time. They see everything around them. They think. They experience. They live. And the Holy Spirit works in their hearts, turning a bad experience to their own good, or vice versa. These are things I don’t have control over. Who knows how my child is going to interpret my tone of voice, the expression on my face, my movements as I cook dinner? Those eyes take it all in, and I can only pray that God will work good things in their hearts, and that He will use me to teach them truth and not lies.