Authors and Poets
Authors and Poets

Photos used with permission from the Academy of American Poets

Last updated:
November 19, 2017
Lori M. Cameron, editor

Scout – Nina Tassi

Winds blowing over the prairie
Tall grass swaying far as eyes can see
Wagons rolling into Nebraska

The scout goes ahead on foot
Eyes sweeping arc of land and sky
Prescient trusted one taking all the risks

Walking swiftly, knife at the ready,
A mere slip of a girl
Heads for a vantage point.

So lacking in swagger or bombast
No booming voice, no use for firearms
How is it that they made her their scout?

They saw that she was at home
Where they felt strange
Never gets lost in the prairie maze, they said

Grizzlies, buffalo, wolves, snakes
Fears none of them
Nor hates a living man.

A man could place his life in hers
And rest easy, they knew
They wanted her, and she said yes

If you could see her walking on ahead
You’d see her sturdy sunburned legs
The confident stride, her straight back

But if you looked carefully
You’d see narrow shoulder blades
Protruding sharply against her thin shirt

Now she reaches a fine rise in the prairie
With a fair-sized pond in its hollow
They could build a fort here, she thinks

She circles back to the wagons
Follow me, she says, mounting up
And clicking her horse into a canter

She leads them to the campsite
Where they bring the wagons round
And build a cheery fire against the night

By sunrise the scout is saddled up
They wave her off with loud hurrahs
Glad she’s brought them through to safety

When the scout is on her own
She surrenders to the wind
She and her horse galloping in a sea

Of tall grasses, a profusion of wildflowers
Streaming by, as birds, butterflies, grasshoppers
Rabbits, elk, and deer stop to watch her pass

On her own she merges with the prairie
Given over to her ownness
Freedom’s music the melody she hears

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