Photographing Western South Dakota

by Mr. Sheehy

I stop along 44 –
I’ve chosen the out of the way route across the state –
and snap a photo of an abandoned shack.

It’s as perfect a composition
as I’ve ever captured:
on each plank of vertical siding, grey, weather worn edges frame
rich streaks of golden brown.
The entire structure leans right
towards the plot’s one tree, 20 yards off:
a reach for solidarity,
and a danger to any occupant.
The tree stands straight,
and I include it prominently,
a defiant foil to the defeated, long absent tenants
and to their desperate house.
Behind the house the plains slope up,
a light tan backdrop suggesting
the beginning of an endless, undulating ocean
of grass.

Smug again on my two-lane highway,
having taken another shot that proves my route
makes all the difference,
one wonders:
Am I an artist with a discerning eye
for originality and beauty?
Or am I like the mother robin
nesting beneath that shack’s battered eve,
regurgitating what I have found elsewhere?

Does it matter?

The newly hatched robin, squawking desperately
in its nest,
will eat hundreds of its mother’s old meals
before ever gulping an original worm;
and this photo, when I blow it up to a 5×7
and matte it in a Hobby Lobby frame,
will hang only in my hall,
to be considered only by my wife, kids,
and a few compassionate friends.

This poem is the property of Geoffrey Sheehy should not be republished in any form without the writer’s consent.