The Cost of a Cabin

Snow2 vert2 My cabin is boring beige
The hazy clouds are layers of lavender, pink, white and blue
High above a half moon nods a slanted greeting
As we jet north, the fields far below hue from tan to white
Infrequent towns are hoisting their street lights
Rural roads form a patchwork crazy quilt
Sections square in even Midwestern miles
In between are random mixtures of 320, 160, 80 and 40 acres

Each of these fields has a story
Sweat-irrigated earth
Tilled with tears
Bought with blood
Fifty years ago in that 80, Ralph lost his right arm to a corn-picker
Fifty years earlier, over the fence William first kissed Bertha under the willow
Across the creek William was gored by his bull
Widow Bertha milked the cows morning and evening
Drove the one-horse plow
Chopped the wood
Carried the water
Baked the bread
Wept on her washboard
Grew old too young

Bertha’s great-grandson dismounts his air-conditioned tractor
Eats his lunch in the shadow of her stone fireplace
The skeletal remains of William and Bertha’s once-laughing cabin
A moment of inspiration
He sees himself and his wife and their almost-born child
Cozied on a couch
Watching a fire-tongued log on this ancient stone hearth
He pulls his carpenter pencil from his jeans
And a fertilizer invoice from his shirt pocket
He sketches and laughs
He loves his fields and sees his cabin
Little does he know their price

About Ben Unseth

Executive Director at Project Understanding (2014-2017), social service agency in Ventura, CA
This entry was posted in communication, culture and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Cost of a Cabin

  1. B. J. Slinger says:

    What prompted your thoughts on the pioneers?

  2. Ben Unseth says:

    I was flying north to Minneapolis on December 31 for my nephew’s wedding. Looking down at the irregular patchwork of fields made me think about my forebears and their sacrifice.

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