Washington

Surely you were dreaming
when you built a southern
mansion on the gentle slope
of a north Missouri clay knoll.
In 1847 the land, naked and
new, spewed dreams west of
the Mississippi across half
the young world.

You courted a royal blue-blood,
a delicate southern belle from
Tennessee, uncertain how you
would cling to her slick satins
and bows if she chose to bolt
and flee?

Like a purple pansy painted
on fine porcelain, she was a
hot-house flower you feared
to transplant to a wild new
frontier.

Yet, you asked and she agreed,
so you must have painted dreams
on an azure blue sky above the
Nolachuckey River some spring
morning in Tennessee when new
lives floated in white cumulous
clouds like story books waiting
to be read.

Barn swallows swoop through
the splintered crystal that a
century and a half ago, would
have been lofty and pretentious
grandeur in a landscape dotted
with rough log cabins, and rougher
sod houses, a dream carved from
a virgin land for Grace, your
breathtaking princess.

When you walked across
Indian Hill Ridge that fine
morning in 1847, did it flash
like a shooting star behind
your eyes, a future so dazzling
you dropped to your knees on
the rolling red clay to behold it?

Or did you see land, free for
the taking, fertile soil, clear
running water, blue skies,
green grass, abundant wild life,
wide open spaces, possibilities
of wealth beyond anything you
have ever known or seen?

Or did you see a tawny doe
with her new fawns, lap at
the crystal water of Indian
Hills Creek and imagine the
new life you and Grace would
plant in seeds of passion under
a golden harvest moon glinting
off her transparent blue irises,
glazed with desire?

Perhaps you laid your pack
on the dew damp grass and
built the geometric symmetry
of your dream in the white
cumulous story book of north
Missouri while you dozed in
a field of wild white daisies,
bonny bluebells, and sweet
clover, its blossoms the
exact shade of pansy violet
in Grace's eyes.

*Author's Note.

Washington Miller was born in 1822 and died in 1855 Grace Broyles was born in 1823 and died in 1912. They were married in Tennessee in 1847. Washington Miller walked from Tennessee to Missouri in 1848 where he took out the first land grant in Adair County, Missouri. The piece of property he homesteaded came to be called Indian Hills. Family stories were passed down that a vigilante crowd hunted down an Indian from an area tribe and hung him for supposedly stealing a horse. However, nobody would agree to the man being buried anywhere in Adair County after they hung him. The story is that Washington Miller came forward and said he would bury the dead Indian on his farm. If the Indian's grave is there, it is outside the main grounds of the Miller family plots, and it is on a narrow slope at the top of the hill above a gravel road to the old farmhouse, marked only by a very narrow stone raising up out of the ground, a rough facsimile of a church steeple maybe 8 inches high.