By Floyd T. Wood
Yes, we took a bit of desert
For a homestead, Sue and I.
Hoped to win success as farmers;
Pleased to have the chance to try.
Built a log and ‘dobe cabin
Where ‘twas handy to the spring.
Sue called it a sagebrush palace;
Nicknamed me ‘The Sagebrush King.’
Plowed a dam to hold the waters
From the winter snows and rains.
Set out trees and shrubs and roses;
Planted hardy hay and grains.
How we laughed and sang and frolicked
At these strange new jobs to do;
Seemed that things we’d hoped and prayed for
All our lives would here come true.
No more tramping, no more wand’ring.
Here a chance to settle down.
Love would make the gray days brighter –
What odds fifty miles to town?
Prairie larks our clock of mornings
Calling us to work and fun.
Brown our faces, tanned an crinkled
With the claw marks of the sun.
Winter, long; then spring’s chinooking
Filled my lake with waters deep.
Bought a cow, a pig, some chickens,
And a little band of sheep.
In our garden fresh and greening
Sue and I were well repaid.
Proud because a barren acre
Into Eden had been made.
But as blossoms wilt and wither
In the sting of winter’s breath,
So my dreams were on the evening
When my love lay cold in death.
Numbed and broken there beside her,
Asking God why this must be;
And the night was dark and silent
As the desert mourned with me.
So this cabin that we builded
Stands now empty and alone;
Roof sagged down and chimney fallen;
Through wide cracks the night winds moan.
When the sun is warm, the lizards
In the doorway pause to rest;
‘Neath the floor are squirming rattlers;
In the loft the pack rats nest.
Sightless windows ghostly staring
From the rooms where prayers were said.
Where our flowers and garden flourished
Rank the sagebrush grows instead.
Lake and fences, fields and ditches,
Scarce a sign of mortal hand.
Home that was, a broken Eden,
Buried ‘neath the marching sand.
Not one jot of earthly value
In those ruins stark and gray;
By mankind and God forgotten;
Still I linger, day by day,
Watching, hoping, listening ever
For the call to set me free;
Well I know my Sue is waiting
In God’s homestead fair for me.