117. Becoming Pioneers

With the furnace out

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.


One thought on “117. Becoming Pioneers

  1. I like the point-blank questions the author raises in this piece. The word pictures are excellent as well.

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