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Radio | Shorts

Spare Me Yellow Skies

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Posted 09.22.11

This past July was the hottest month ever on record for Oklahoma, or any other state for that matter. Farmers and ranchers have been the hardest hit by the drought. In this segment of Poetry to the People, a handful of farmers and ranchers read Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel’s poem “Spare Me Yellow Skies” and reflect on how they’ve fared during this brutal summer.

 

Spare Me Yellow Skies

by Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel

 

Temperature is 105
high pressure puts
a hateful cap on our
heads
and holds it there

 

Under a sullen mustard
sky
that will not relent
and weep us rain

 

My poor house suffers
as much as I
the tiny patio
would gladly move to Pismo Beach

 

The cactus in Mama’s pottery
jar
has turned to gray mush
and the neighbor
with all the terrible secrets
has not opened her drapes
today

 

I pull my drapes wide open
and ask myself again
why does a yellow sky
trouble me

 

I have loved blue skies
and purple
madly
gray and black
I have embraced as sisters

 

but someone spare me yellow
skies

 

Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel was born in 1918 into an Oklahoma sharecropping family. In 1936 they fled the drought, dust and the Depression of Oklahoma. She died in California in 2007.