they came from overseas—they rode the wagons,
poled the flatboats, hiked the mountain trails,
hitched their skirts to wade the rivers,
took their turn as lookouts in the night.
They were here when trees were felled.
They helped to raise the cabin walls
and gather wood for heating.
They labored with their men as equals
through days of hardship and nights of fear;
the forests were full of danger, the land was full of promise.
They helped assure survival and did the work without complaint:
cooking, sewing, caring for the sick,
churning, washing, tending to their children.
They labored with each birth of child, animal, and season.
They cried without tears and sang their babes to sleep.
They built this land and yet their names
are not written in the history books;
they lived lives unknown and unremembered
by those who followed after.
They were wives of scouts and settlers,
hunters and riverboatmen, men honored
in books, on monuments, in songs
that tell their deeds and doings.
They lived, they worked, they died
and laid to rest in lonesome places
overgrown with weeds and lost to time.
They were here and tamed this land
with their woman’s touch.
For they were here.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.