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The Poetry of Donna Humphrey


I thank you, God, for all these ordinary things;
For water that flows freely from the faucet to my tub
Or drawn from wells by windmills to the tanks
Where thirsty horses drink and drink
And shake their thankful heads and drink again.

I thank you for the wheatfields waving gently
In the wind, ripe for the reaping;
Golden in the fields and golden in the bread
Upon my table.

Thank you for the prairie grasses
Red and gold in Autumn
Dying in a blaze of glory — so it seems —
But then, come April, they are richly green
Nourishing the bison, then the cattle
When the buffalo are gone.
These grasses came by Nature's providence
Bursting, as it were, unsummoned
From the Prairie-Erth.

Thank you, too, for the forests; trees
That drop their leaves in Autumn on the earth
To give it nourishment; for logs in fireplaces
Where we warm ourselves and sometimes see our dreams
Go up in flames and die; For Christmas trees —
And for the lonely beam from which we made a cross
And hanged the Man who made it all!
But like the earth in Spring, Life does not die!
The Author lives! I thank you, God,
For all these "ordinary" things!

Joan photo


I have never tried to set down my feelings about you.
Perhaps it is because the feelings I have
Run too deep for words.
Also my feeling is inadequacy
When I try for words to tell you of my thoughts;
For you are the one who always seems to tear away
The shabby, artificial wrappings of my sentences, to leave me
With the small, and often meaningless kernel of my thoughts
Wondering why I thought that what I had to say
Was of the slightest moment. Now tonight,
With what I call my "heart" so full of pain and love —
If I know love — if I must say it badly,
Then it will be badly said.
The tearing, hurting, loving battle has to end.
The time for "Mother"
Long has gone. Now, let me be your friend.

horse photo

Bill (circa 1920–1930)

I have small certainties about the ways of God
But some child-minded angel
Must have touched my father's heart so that
He bid upon and bought
A leggy, lovely saddle horse named "Bill."

Embarrassed by his rank extravagance
(No plow-horse, this!) he brought him home.
My brothers led him out, gravely covering their joy
With manly objectivity (too much exuberance
Would never do). One by one they tried him out
And found his gait as smooth as silk and given rein
That horse would all but fly!

I was too young (a girl!) to ride alone
But came a day when I could lift the saddle,
Cinch it tight, and climbing up,
Begin my tentative steps to freedom.
And came another day and days when girl and horse
Beyond the sight of elders, streaked through pastures,
Jumping ditches, risking life and bones
At breakneck speed and then, sedately, home again,
Bringing the cows for milking.
This one sweet, happy memory, almost unchanged
By time, I carry from my Kansas childhood;
This one delight: My friendship
With a leggy, lovely saddle horse named "Bill."

family photo

To Laurie with Love and Disagreement

Let me tell you, Laurie, dear
About your friend, the mouse.
When I was just about your age
Those pests ate up my house!

They chewed away the plaster
Ate holes beneath the doors
They ate the food off of the shelves
And skittered on the floors.

They made their nests, those mother-mice
In every nook and cranny
In backs of closets, in our shoes,
You never saw so many!

They crawled in the piano
And made their little nests
They fixed it so it wouldn't play
The vicious little pests!

And so, my friend, I must insist
No "ifs" no "ands" no "buts"
Though you may think that mice are nice
I hate their little guts!

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