After the Gold Rush
He arrived in California late;
it took a cajoling year or two
to convince her he should go,
leaving her behind to care
for four children and the farm.
With herbal skill, she charmed him:
sewed forget-me-nots into his pillow,
infused his stew with bloodroot
to encourage deeper ties to kith
and kin, and sassafrassed his tea,
but knew no cure for optimism.
He headed west with her reluctant blessings.
Too soon he caught another kind of fever,
and spent his hoarded dust for doctors.
She auctioned off the brindled, mast-fat hog
to pay his way on the east-bound train,
though she knew he would remain
hunkered down beside the rushing stream
of his mind, panning for a different future.