Mildred Wood

Important Things (Poem) - Aug. 27, 2011

Mildred Wood
August 27, 2011— Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa Women's Hall of Fame ceremony
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I owned a single pair of shoes, two dresses,

a pony, and a horse.

I did not learn to roller-skate

or to ride a bike,

But I made a purple crown of burdock

and marveled at how firmly

it stayed on my head. I named my white goose Bonnie,

and Bonnie turned out to be a hissing gander.

I netted butterflies until I discovered

that I did not like them dead.

I fed pigs and lambs from a bottle

and taught calves to drink milk from a pail.

I drove the cattle home in the evening, then stopped

at the creek to wash my feet. I rode a white goat,

named Billie, and he catapulted me over his head.

I sat quietly each spring along the Des Moines River

and watched a pair of belted kingfishers

tunnel a home in the hard clay bank.

I stopped my horse and waited for a mother skunk

and four black and white kittens

to waddle slowly across my path

in single file

with their tails arched over their backs.

I watched a red fox and her pups,

flame-red in the autumn sun,

sniffing the air near a mooring stone.

I was the daughter of a farmer

who lost his farm during the Great Depression,

but I knew a million moments

of awe and wonder,

and those were the moments

when my dreams were born.

Published in Variations in White, the ninth CSS Publication Anthology, edited by Rebecca S. Bell of CSS Publications, and copyrighted 1986.