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So Far To Go

by louis gander

The year, I'm told, is eighteen-ten.
The weather's dry and hot.
I 'reckon dad knows where to go.
The horses do not trot.
We're tired and very thirsty,
with rations, water low.
The wagon trails' a long one and,
we have so far to go.

The wagon covers' full of holes
and leaks each time it rains.
The mud strains both the horses.
Our perseverance wanes.
But persevere, we can and must.
That's what mere patience proves -
while breathing in the trail dust
behind the horses hooves.

Supplies? ...almost depleted.
Before I go to sleep,
I lay awake, my stomach hurts,
I hear my mother weep.
The bread, she trims the mold from -
it helps my hunger pangs.
A line is stretched above my head.
Our dripping laundry hangs.

I'm not the wisest western child
I don't know very much.
I'm not quite sure how 'blessings' work,
and 'thankfulness' and such.
But Jesus, we are so obliged -
for shoes that fit our feet,
safety from the wolves and snakes,
and berries we can eat.

I'm sorry that I think of corn,
potatoes, peas or fish -
and if I lived in different times,
or place - that'd be my wish.
I'd eat just like a gentleman.
I'd eat my last string bean.
I'd eat what others did not want -
then lick their dishes clean.

Sometimes my mom... I'll see a tear.
She hides it pretty good.
But Jesus, I know mother -
she'd help me if she could.
She stays up nights when I am sick.
I hear her prayers to You.
She shows her love to everyone
and knows just what to do.

So answer, Jesus, my small prayer...
I ask it for our Nation -
that it would always thankful be -
bent not unto temptation.
I wonder if Americans
will ever truly know -
this wagon trails' a long one and,
we have so far to go.

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This poem was a finalist in the November 2011 poetry contest

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