When I was a sad, sleepless child
I created a country only I could see.
Tiny trees, tiny birds and flowers,
tiny darling houses imagined in detail
to best please inhabitants
so small that my face, looking on,
might be large and distant as the moon.
When flowers grew thirsty,
I made soft rain fall. When I grieved,
I gave them holidays with songs, games,
gifts. Never let them hear
thunder’s rumble in my world.
I didn’t expect the people I tended
so sweet might argue, might bully,
might wreck homes I envisioned
as serene. Couldn’t figure out
how to bring order back.
Realized I’d made myself a god,
one with powers I didn’t want.
So I stopped ruling their world,
let them go on without me
in a country so free
I never gave it a name.
Laura Grace Weldon was 2019’s Ohio Poet of the Year. She’s written three poetry collections: Portals (Middle Creek 2021), Blackbird (Grayson 2019), and Tending (Aldrich 2013). Laura works as a book editor, teaches writing, and maxes out her library card each week. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com
Falling From the Hay Wagon
I stand on square bales piled 10 feet high,
pushing them to the edge for others to stack
as July sun shoves between barn boards
in hot dust-ridden stripes.
All of us weary, chaff stuck to sweat
after a long day of haying
in heat dry as the cracked creek bed.
A Benadryl haze makes my limbs
feel like pudding, so wobbly I’m sillier
than usual as I wade to the edge,
still chortling as I trip, tip over,
fall to the barn’s dirt floor,
landing hard between wagon and post,
jeans somehow intact
against a pitchfork’s rusty tines.
I’m jolted into silence
until I find I’m fine,
me, the worrier
who never sees what’s coming.
My family leans over me, aghast
while I lie in the dust laughing
at all the good fortune we have sown.
He wants to fill in the pasture’s low spots.
I say no, no, no
these are magic spaces.
When winter comes they ice overnight
to crunch like candy under toddler boots.
Each spring, puddles leap into being,
just deep enough to wriggle with tadpoles.
Drying into mud, they entice butterflies
to drink salts in a crowded aerial whiffle.
Why even anything out?
These depressions of ours
hold so much.
Laura Grace Weldon is the author of the poetry collections Blackbird and Tending, as well as a handbook of alternative education titled Free Range Learning. She was named Ohio Poet of the Year for 2019. Her background includes teaching nonviolence workshops, writing collaborative poetry with nursing home residents, and facilitating support groups for abuse survivors. She works as a book editor, teaches community writing classes, and lives on a small farm. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com.