Poetry

Library of Congress

In the Bible, when Job’s friends handed out their opinions of his suffering, they had his health in mind; but none of them, nor their arguments, could satisfy the emptiness in his soul. He'd lost his family, his land, his enterprise, even his health in a tsunami of bad times. Job likely numbered his days as "the worst hard times,"  the title of Timothy Egan's masterful portrayal of an American time and a place we've commonly become to describe as "the Dust Bowl."

Clear as a friend's heart, 'twas, and seeming cool--

A crystal bowl whence skyey deeps looked up.

So might a god set down his drinking cup

Charged with a distillation of haut skies.

As famished horses, thrusting to the eyes

Parched muzzles, take a long-south water-hole,

Hugh plunged his head into the brimming bowl

as though to share the joy with every sense. 

And lo, the tang of that wide insolence 

Of sky and plain was acrid in the draught!

How ripplingly the lying water laughed!