Looking Back
Crossed what looked like
endless prairies,
Climbed steep slopes
we shouldn't have tried.

Birthed our babies,
Buried our dead,
Gritted our teeth,
Kept moving ahead.

At times it seemed
as if the whole trip
was some kind of terrible,
meaningless test,
Winnowing some of us --
but who knew which of us --
Sorting us out from the rest.

Still we forged on,
And for those who won through,
For those who endured and survived,
The trail made us different,
More daring and stronger --
Pioneers to the end of our lives.
--laj (1997)