WIND BORNE NOSTALGIA BY VICTOR JOHNSON
The schoolhouse - are we standing where it stood?
Not a thing remains, foundation stone or bit of wood.
The playground, scence of simulated hard-fought battle
Is now a quiet grazing ground, for cattle.
Since we played here, we've said farewell to Sister, Dad and Brother;
And yesterday last rites were said for our beloved Mother.
Memories, like northern lights, flick onto the mind's clear screen.
They come on brightly, then fade out making way for a different scene.
On west of us a quarter mile, where some of us were born,
Is pasture land. Without the house it looks a bit forlorn.
The lower dam is there, but if the path still shows it's dim--
I mean the one we followed, racing down to swim.
A little further on, a shaggy sentinel remains;
One tree! For eighty years it's stood in cold, and drouth, and rains.
And over all, the western wind still blows.
The same strong wind that in our childhood drifted high the snows.
Mom's love for the prairie ended here.
She said the winds were too severe;
The lashing hail or swirling dust
Flew ahead of a gale that would blow it or bust .
The rattling door, like a mad drummer's roll,
Hammered Mom's patience, exhausted her soul.
At night she'd awake with the place still as death.
The wind was resting and catching its breath.
It was rough! Yet the wind had a gentler streak;
It added rich tone to Dad's sun-darkened cheek.
And though in the winter its chill cursed the range,
Just a day's warm Chinook brought a marvelous change.
Once, when the rains came all through the spring the grass grew tall and strong,
And the wind made the shimmering grass-waves toss with a loving, whispering song.
We loafed in the warm wind and hunted wild flowers
And the land and the sky and the clouds were all ours.
At night when Mom kissed us and tucked us in bed,
When a quiet "good night" and our prayers had been said
Then the sweet gentle wind, blowing soft and serene
Sang a hushed lullaby through the west window screen.
School days and homework took our time as we drew into the fall;
We'd trudge along toward the one-room school with body and mind in a stall.
But on windy days we'd open our coat and hold it out like a sail.
With a good cool blast pushing strong on our back, we sped up the hill on the gale.
In the winter we raced our battered sleds on the far side of the hill.
There never were such polished drifts as went through the west wind's mill.
It would build and smooth and caress those drifts with a hairdresser's care and skill.
To carve out a white-walled tunnel in one, you needed a miner's drill.
Cold winds, warm winds, winds with a searing blast;
They kept our minds pre-occupied; the years went by too fast.
Those winds, plus time, removed our tracks; once more the grass grows green.
And the rains, pushed hard by the roving winds have washed the prairie clean.
We won't relive - we can't relive - the good old days of youth;
The sighing wind reiterates this old and solemn truth.
For life itself moves through this place like jet streaks in the dawn.
One Book likens life to a vapor puff; it's here, and then it's gone.
The soul returns to the giver, God.
And the body's entombed in the wind-swept sod.
The plain stands serene in its age old pose.
And over it softly, the west wind blows.