Leaving The Dust Bowl

By Bob Bradshaw


Our house poked between the sand dunes

like a half-buried shrimp boat.

Sand leaned against the tops of fences.

We turned our plates on the dinner table

upside down

and covered the baby's crib with a wet sheet

at night to keep her

from breathing


Dust pneumonia was as common

as rash and bankrupt farms.

It's time to leave, Mother,

I said. We gave our land

to the bank. We gave our mule

to Jordon, who took on the burden

of trying to feed it.

Don't worry, Mother. California

is like a big green harbor

waiting for us. Mother nodded. We tied on

the beds and furniture and cooking pans

and threw in the kids

out of sentimental reasons

and pointed the car