Saturday Poem

—In language as vivid and violent as the prairie sunlight, Ann Turner’s poems reveal the intensity of the pioneer experience. No one who reads these lines . . . can be unmoved by the lives of the women who undertook this extraordinary journey across a continent.

Glad to be Gone

I ran through the rain,
the rest huddled in oilcloth
or canvas,
afraid, each one,
of wind and rain.
I love
the needles on my face,
the wind under my dress,
my hair strung out behind.

No one knows the confinement
or women, sitting,
standing, bustled and trussed,
never allowed to run—sometimes
to dance demure

I was the only one
who never wept for home.
I scream into the wind,
race after cattle,
pluck the black river fruit,
and reach so high my waist tears,
and no one can say
I am not a lady.

by Ann Turner
Grass Songs; Poems of Women’s Journey West
Harcourt Brace, 1993