She was born on the prairie in 1935,
some place east of Oklahoma City,
a town that no longer exists.
Her Daddy dragged her and her mother,
raggedy as dustbowl lungs,
all over Colorado that first year.
West Slope fruit farms to
silver claims in Cripple Creek,
ten stakes in twelve months.
They finally lit
on the farm fields of rural Illinois,
where she raised a flood
of brothers and sisters, eight in all,
one after another.
By sixteen, she was cocked and ready to spring,
determined chin pointed toward Chicago,
a song in her throat.
She was all but down the road
when he sauntered in,
smooth talked her into moving south,
back to his home place in the Blue Ridge.
The promised land,
in the end, turned up to be
just another empty platform without a town.
Debra Shirley is Director of after school and summer arts programming at two elementary schools in Arvada, Colorado. Her work has been included in Tar River Poetry, The Cortland Review, Margie Review: The American Journal of Poetry, Word Riot, Main Street Rag, the Playwright's Showcase of the Western Region and elsewhere.