Thursday, April 08, 2021

Dry Buck

 The wind’s been moving the dust around the grave

For 113 years but the brush covered hill

Never grows any smaller.


The high valley snow measured in feet

Blown by the same wind to mountain drifts

Is never cleared from above her head.


The wild grasses that grip each drop of moisture

Struggle to break through the hard pan soil,

Crushed by the occasional grazing cattle.


Her sweet mother Eleanor died in sweltering Phoenix

But never did rise again after giving birth

So the baby was given her mother’s name, Nellie.


Her heartbroken father took her and her brother home

To his mother’s ranch in the Idaho wilderness

But he was taken by TB before she made a year.


In 300 days grandma Mary lost a son and a daughter-in-law.

After raising her own 15 children she became

A mother anew to infant Nellie and Ophel Jones.


The emotional agony must have been supreme

As the 3-year widow struggled to survive herself

Raising two tiny grandchildren on the dusty ranch.


But a greater test awaited her as the dry summer winds blew.

Consumption claimed orphan Nellie from Mary’s gentle arms

Never to see even one full year of life.


She took Nellie’s body to this hillside and dug a dusty hole herself,

With weighty tears striking the dirt like exploding raindrops

Mary buried the baby in the dark shadow of the home.


In the high mountain valley of Dry Buck Canyon

Nellie’s body rests alone in the dust and grass today.

No stone or cross marks the place.


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