And snow in the forecast,
They huddle around the wood stove
And journey into 1897.
The surrounding houses dissolve,
Leaving a horizon of white plains.
Wind lurks around timber,
Drawn by lantern light,
Howls echoing into ravines.
Like a gray horse gaunt with starvation,
The bare oak branch nuzzles the window pane,
Begging for sustenance.
How did pioneers stay engaged
On such a night?
Could the same collection of stories
Suffice to stem the tide of loneliness?
Could imagination surge yet again
To create a new even if wholly fabricated tale?
Perhaps contrary to history,
The pioneer’s fortitude was not fully tested
By flood, famine, and deprivation.
Only by such a dark night of the soul,
Glancing into the countenance of a spouse
Who has fitted the last puzzle piece
And now stares into your face,
Daring you to be interesting.
— Thomas Reynolds
Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008.