Mark Todd is a twelve-year resident of Colorado's Western Slope and lives in a ranching community near Gunnison. He is a professor of creative writing at Western State College and also chairs the department of Communication Arts, Languages, and Literature.
The Doyleville Schoolhouse
squats against foothills,
a tiny solitary block of salt
to the eye that travels
the straight-across mile
from the highway.
Its paint skin, snow-weary
and cracked, tells of years
since anyone learned, or lived
cubbyholed, beneath the roof.
But those who live ranch-distant
still feel its rituals—its pie socials
and Halloween apple bobs.
Its web connects homes
too often separated by calving,
haying, by winter wind
and snow-drifted fields.
Some traditions run deeper
than concrete or splintered siding,
perhaps as deep as the country itself.
This morning the old schoolhouse
wears the full moon like a bonnet,
waiting patiently to remind us:
It's the where that sometimes tells us
who we are.
In the dark, standing, waiting
For the shiver of early chores
To settle bone deep.
The horses, now grained,
Gray their shadows against a lifting black.
I watch a crisp, white line etch
The ragged jaw of mountains to the east,
Light soon spilling into the valley.
In the pasture, squadrons of Canadian geese take flight,
A floating phalanx that reaches
The warmth of sunlight above our heads.
The horses pause, and together
We watch, waiting our turn
To share the morning sun.