a poem for Matt’s birthday


I’ll hold you up
for a breath of the wind
through the cottonwoods
chattering, flapping
at four swallows passing
the two saw-tooth aspen
applauding and cheering
the cumulus clouds sailing
over their ride of ice sky.

The wind’s a gruff elder,
at home on this land.
He tickles your face
till you laugh at his playfulness,
eyes scrunched
and lips curled up in a grin,
or you gasp and cry out
when dust from the dirt road,
caught in his beard,
brushes across your bare skin.

The wind’s a kind watcher,
whispering “ssssshhhh”
through the conifers
standing in line at the home place.
If you lie on a blanket,
in grass by the windmill,
you may feel a loved one
right next to your face,
speaking low, Wish you wind
on an ancestor’s hill.

Matt Johnson

This poem was written in the first years of my son Matt’s life, after a trip to one of the farms on Kirsten’s side of the family. It was published in 1998 in the journal Christianity and Literature.

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