Pioneer Cathedral Poem by Michael J Williams

Pioneer Cathedral

They lived among the native population,
a people who naively helped them to survive.
This innocent assistance … destroyed a native culture
and caused a native way of life… to come to its demise.

Hidden in the thick wilderness so mysterious and deep,
these brave and resourceful (but ignorant) ancestors of mine
eked out a subsistence, from the magnificent but unforgiving wild
and gave little note, perhaps but scornful pity, to the poor and dirty native child.

They built shelters from these ancient forests of hickory, ash and oak
Large timber framed structures reaching up into the dark and verdant boughs
The barn was the most important building on the early settler's farm,
providing protection, for celebration and fellowship, and winters food supply.

The swampy forests of Northwest Ohio were ship mast-straight and high,
so thick and dark, scant light filtered in through the canopy that reached up through the sky.
Coming from Europe's denuded woodlands, the settlers wandered forth in wonder
of the bounty and fearsome beauty that stood before them in shaded, divine splendor.

The pioneer barns, consecrated by their useful purpose far greater
than any human ordination could render, have stood the test of time
and evolved, thus far, to protect different tools of changing practices,
are disappearing because of lack of use, and neglect, and want for money.

Still inspiring those who can appreciate the work… and passion that drove their creation,
these magnificent edifices (the ones that survive) display the ingenuity and patience
of precise hand work that takes years to master sufficiently… no mistakes could be afforded,
as timely delays mattered not for merely profit, but for survival in this foreboding landscape.

Some barns, in their abandonment, are thriving eco-systems unto themselves
as they are home to a variety of swallows and wrens and pigeons, and the gnawing and scurrying of all manner of rodents can be heard as the burrowing groundhog surveys his domain from under the
rotting lower beam of a tired framework that once formed one of four bents.

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