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Kerry Hoffschneider, writer rural York County, Nebraska

Do you see her?

Do you see her? She steps outside the door and shakes the rug.  She is the one in the kitchen, staring out the window at the wide-open, Great Plains.  Open, but still not fully open to her.  She hauls the water to the house.  She lifts the children to feed from her breasts.  She mends cuts and tends to chores.  Do you see her? She bore a dozen young and lost five to the Great Plains and two within her womb.  When needed, she drove the horses.  When needed, she drove the tractor.  Sometimes she is driven mad.  She can also be found hunched over a garden, fighting weeds.   She can throw bales and clean up the baby’s throw up. Do you see her? She is not a ghost.  She is still real.  She is a woman in a farmhouse today.  She is looking out a window at windswept plains.  While the world now feels the pangs of entrapment, she already knows how to operate half-free amongst unopened minds.  She knows how to tiptoe amongst tradition.  She knows how to pray it changes.  She knows who to keep her mouth shut around.  She knows how to hope.  She knows how to help and keep humble the way the pews prefer.  Do you see her? She’s putting on a smile.  She’s looking in the closet and dusting under church clothes, business clothes and chore clothes.  She is educated.  She is not using her education.  They aren’t ready for that sort of thing.   She is surrounded, but alone.  She is worlds within worlds and thoughts within thoughts.  Do you see her? She knows who really does and who does not.  She knows more than it seems.  She holds onto barbed wire and big dreams.  She holds on and keeps farmhouses from falling in.  She holds on for dear life.  Do you see her? She’s even greater than the Great Plains.  Set her free and we will all be.  Free.

Thank you so much Kerry for sharing your picture and poetry.

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