Moving west, white settlers would burn their log cabins and save the nails.
Four states west of the life she remembered
she watched him destroy another year.
It was the third house he had built, the third
he burned: a day of hellfire to test her trust.
The Bible and the gun were saved.
She feared them both, and him,
and betraying it to children sleeping
in the wagon. Her belly fluttered:
a trick hope his fourth Utopia could last,
but lumber was God-given and nails cost.
Shadows leaned at dawn from charred angles
where nails glinted to be born again.
Shoshoni saw only one more scorched square:
ploughed-up camas bulbs meant winter hunger.
Brave courting talk begat hard married work.
She dried into her shadow, folded up and sank,
unnoticed but for her effect. A nail in wood.
Prairie births could kill. She knew he knew a wife
could be replaced before another nine-month stake.
Would he then calculate the worth of each
and choose to cut her, like he burned each house he built
to save those precious Minnesota nails?