A Poetic Find by Candy

Quite a challenge – choose a favorite poem and poet to share!

Billy Collins has been a favorite of mine for some time, although my first poetic love was Rod McKuen (yes, I freely admit it). So I went to my bookcases to find which of Billy Collins’ poems I would share. This took most of the afternoon, reading poems from his books (and from Rod’s too), which turned out to be the perfect way to spend a rainy day, along with a cup of tea.

I came across some slim volumes of poetry hiding there in the dark, waiting for someone to hold them, open them, read the words from a poet’s heart. One of these was a book titled, Grass Songs by Ann Turner. I’m sure I found this little gem at a used book sale. It is a collection of 17 poems about the women who were part of the westward wagon trains and their experiences. These poems are simple and real, and they pierce your heart.

According to the brief biography included, Ann Turner was doing research for a novel when she first read some of the journals of these pioneer women and was inspired to tell their stories in poetic form.

She is best known for her children’s books, but has written several volumes of poetry.

The book was published in 1993, so I don’t know if its still available. If you haunt used books sales, as I do, be on the lookout for it.

Here is the one I chose to share with you:

“Make One Woman”

by Ann Turner

Ann Turner
There is a better way
to make a woman.
Cut her from cloth, gabardine,
so strong and fine
it will not scratch or tear.
Sew eyes of black
that will not cry.
Paint one nose not over-
Particular about cattle
Smells and prairie ills.
Fashion two ears
that do not listen
for love,
that are content
with the wind and rain
and sleet.
Stitch her hair down tight
so the blizzard will not
tear it off.
Make those arms strong
enough for horse, harness,
and frozen wood.
Get two legs that will not
ache, that walk a prairie
like a city street.
And feet – do not forget
to make them long and large
for river fords and
winter boots.
Did I forget the heart?
Sew one red outline,
No shading in between.
It will not feel a child
gone, a husband cold,
a home left behind
like a favorite patchwork
I would have lasted,
had I been of thread,
cloth, and buttons.


  1. Candy, thank you so much for sharing Ann’s vision and voice! Amazing word work and visuals. I just finished Kristin Hannah’s Four Winds novel about the Dust Bowl, and this could’ve been Elsa! Such a powerful rendering of Woman and their powerful attributes honed by survival.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I don’t know how those women made it. The suffering, hardship and danger they faced. I am far too soft to be one of those women but thank God we had them.

  3. This brings to mind several women I’ve known, many of whom were known, endearingly, as “tough old birds.”

  4. A wonderful discovery, Candace. Power, strength and courage exemplified. This coming from one also not afraid to admit to liking McKuen! Maybe I just might highlight him.

  5. Candy and Walt: Thank you for introducing me to a once-again-unheard-of (for me) extraordinary poem. This sample makes me want to discover more of Ms. Turner’s work. I admire a poet who can write “poetically,” but clearly put forth their thoughts and meanings. This poem is a perfect example.

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