Thursday, February 21, 2008

Poetry Friday -- Chant Me Home

As I sat at my desk pondering the topic of this chant, I looked at the walls above my desk: at the thunderhead and windmill photo I've had since high school, at the 3-D map of Colorado my friend Jim gave me when I was desperately homesick my first two years of teaching in Dallas, at the meadowlark print that can take me back home in a glance. Behind me on the bookshelves I scanned an entire shelf of beloved books by western authors and books about the women's history of the westward movement.

And I had my topic.

This is a chant for the landscape of my growing up years -- the wide, flat, empty, semi-arid short grass prairie of eastern Colorado. The chant is comprised of images, authors, and, in italics, book titles.

The Solace of Open Places

It's Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See it From Here

High, Wide and Lonesome
unbroken sod,
O Pioneers! and
my Uncle Bob.

Great Plains: jackrabbits
antelope and Deere,
wagon ruts, meadowlarks
and tumbleweeds found here.

Kent Haruf, Hal Borland, Ian Frazier,
Gretel Ehrlich, Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner.

Eventide, Plainsong
A Sense of Place,
Wolf Willow, My Antonia
Nothing To Do But Stay.

Lark buntings, windmills
towering thunderheads,
grasshoppers, feedlots
the family homestead.

Pioneer Women,
amber waves of grain.
Close my eyes, open a book,
I can go home again.

I wrote this chant for Miss Rumphius' Monday Poetry Stretch.
The Poetry Friday roundup is at Big A little a.


  1. I love it! What a great topic for a chant.

    I couldn't get animals out of my head, so I've strung together a list of animals I'd love to see on safari.

  2. Mary Lee, What a wonderful, adventurous poem! My fav stanza is:

    Lark buntings, windmills
    towering thunderheads,
    grasshoppers, feedlots
    the family homestead.


  3. Beautiful! I've never been to the prairie but this takes me there.

  4. Mary Lee,

    That's really lovely! I like the title of your post--Chant Me Home--too.

  5. Wow.

    See - I really like that! I couldn't do a serious-ish topic with this - it seemed to me that it had to be whimsical and silly - but look how wrong I was!


  6. Love this. The last stanza really "brings it all home." Wonderful images.

  7. Anonymous12:44 PM

    Wonderful, Mary Lee! And isn't that Ian Frazier book on the Plains awesome? I loved it!

  8. Anonymous2:06 PM

    You are becoming the chant queen!!!

  9. Thank you all for your kind words and compliments! It is a little scary to put an original poem out there for the world...although why that's scarier than a book review, I'm not sure. Maybe because it comes from such a deeper place. Anyway, thanks. It means a lot to me.

  10. Anonymous5:08 PM

    oh, well-done! I like it.

  11. I love that dual title. And you made this much more than a list. I felt transported to "Open Places."

  12. Very cool, sis! Thanks for sharing!!!


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