ART: Patricia Frolander, Wyoming Poet Laureate
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April is National Poetry Month — and we wanted to take this opportunity to give a shout out to Wyoming’s amazing Poet Laureate, Patricia Frolander! Here’s a look at Patricia and how she became such a literary figure in the Cowboy State…
Patricia Frolander and her husband, Robert, own his family ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming. Ties to land & livestock have provided a wonderful variety of subjects to journal and pen. Their family includes three children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, all of whom live close to the ranch. Managing family or ranching is like trying to rope the wind. In Wyoming, the wind is either bringing a storm or ushering in sunshine. “I love the changes, although as I age, moderate weather is appreciated,” Patricia says. She has a passion for family, ranching and writing; while actively ranching, you may find her on a tractor or horse…however, at this stage of her life she prefers the chair at her writing desk. Her hobbies also include traveling and genealogy. Patricia’s volume of poetry written to reflect her upbringing and life in Wyoming ranching is titled Married Into It and is published by High Plains Press of Glendo, WY. Patricia was selected as Wyoming’s Poet Laureate in 2011.
Following, please enjoy a few entries from Patricia…
Father When You Call
let me be feeding horses in the big pasture
at five below zero
inhaling scent of alfalfa, breath frosting eyelashes
years written on my face
not in my heart
or let me be fencing in the west pasture
pulling up wire from pungent earth
where snow bent its back
tightening each strand against errant calf,
while meadowlarks greet springtime’s blush
or let me be gathering in the hills
content to drink from a battered canteen
the sweetest water inCrookCounty
the Heeler quick to roust the cow from brush,
my mare eager to turn a stray
or let me be sleeping in the old ranch house
next to my partner
whose gentle snores match my own,
arthritic hands joined
horse-miles and hay-miles behind us.
I am a novice, urban know-nothing.
She draws me into her sun-drenched kitchen—
between snippets of scripture and shared recipes,
I learn about ranch life on Houston Creek.
She takes her rolling pin from a stubborn drawer,
speaks of threshing bees, Mormon Crickets,
and fires that raged through drought-stricken fields.
Apron-draped, she throws a handful of flour,
one after another, texture guides her hands.
Tales of illness and accidental death punctuate
carefully cooked cornstarch, water, eggs, lemon, and sugar.
Meringue turns golden as stories of shivarees,
neighbors’ quarrels, and all-night dances
carry me to another place in time.
. . . . . . . .
Later, I hear of her first beau, the man she wed,
the loss of a child, while oatmeal cookies,
with plumped raisins, meet a hint of nutmeg
in her chipped mixing bowl. She hums Rock of Ages
as dough is spooned onto the cookie sheet.
. . . . . . . .
She gives me a pie for Thanksgiving—
the pumpkin, grown in her garden,
steamed soft, spooned away from its shell and blended
with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, butter, sugar, and flour.
So I plant pumpkin in my vegetable patch.
. . . . . . . .
Her recipe cards are faded, but I know them by heart—
as I do her stories, the twenty-third Psalm, and a remembrance
of a sunny kitchen where I learn who I am to become.
Her time-worn hands create not only food
but the sweetest taste of fellowship.
Echoes of laughter weave
among bronzed stems of grass.
Swings hang empty,
a slide sinks in Plains dirt.
A derelict lilac stands guard
at the outhouse door,
which creaks in a breeze
the windbreak cannot catch.
Shingles lie scattered.
Windows and roof gape.
Inside the school, desks lie abandoned.
Floorboards, burdened in dust, lean south
from the shift of rock foundation.
A world map is severed at the equator.
South America, Africa, andAustralia
droop in tatters, books strewn beside them.
A cast-off alphabet hangs
above the neglected blackboard.
Long-ago recitations linger in prairie wind.