Tumbleweed Fortress (poem w/audio)

“Tumbleweed Fortress” Audio Poem by Michele Lee Sefton
This poem was written in response to a prompt presented by The Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University during National Poetry Month (April). The prompt asked the poet to consider when or where do you feel free/not free and write a poem that describes freedom of self-expression, in relation to space and time. The exploration of those subjects led me to a childhood memory of building tumbleweed forts with friends in a field near our neighborhood.

Tumbleweed Fortress
Fifty times I have closed my eyes
and made a wish after enduring
a happy song shared out of tune.
Fifty times I have stood on solid
ground while a suspended orbit
brought me to my place of origin.

How many more times will I breathe
in and blow out these flickering lights?
How many more times will I navigate
this familiar route and see these sights?
Only the keeper of secrets knows
how many roundtrip tickets I hold.

Until that final circular flight,
stretching over 24 thousand
miles, I will seek excursions,
an escape from expectations.
Leaving behind long lists, long
weeks, and restless nights, that
leave me short on inspiration.
I know freedom; I have felt it
before. That is where I will be.

Returning again and again
to a distant place where
self and freedom reigned.

A place now buried under
streets, cars, and homes.
A place that does not care
about the early inhabitants
who on that land did roam.

A vacant field where children
gathered their dreams and the
scattered tumbleweeds blowing
about. Dreams were freed and
weeds were woven into walls.
Together, the tumbling children
and dry seeds, became a fortress,
not meant to last, but to protect.
From the encroaching cement
meant to pour over dirt, then
harden so that each could step
securely away from the field
and toward an approaching
adulthood meant to settle
childhood dust and dreams.

Before the land was cleared
and the cement was poured,
we, the children, were seen
returning again and again
to walls built the day before.
Arriving to see our scratchy
castle scattered by the wind.
Standing on a dirty canvas,
we rebuilt again and again.
Never minding or caring much
that our neighborhood escape,
would lose its original shape.

Our fortress designs came and
went, but within those thistles
we truly lived. Tilling the dirt
we cultivated collaboration,
expression, and imagination.

The weathered walls, held
our laughter, our dreams,
and our shadows at dusk,
but the thorny maze was
never meant to trap us.

Thank you for visiting my blog and reading and listening to my poem about a childhood place where self and freedom reign. I first wrote about our neighborhood “tumbleweed forts” in a previously published piece (see below). I hope you are able to enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, despite any restrictions or limitations. ✌ Michele

Poetry Collection Update~My daughter (the illustrator) and I completed our first (of three) poetry collections. We successfully solved some long-distance technical dilemmas, and now I am moving on to polishing and publishing. 😊 The beautifully illustrated poetry chapbook will be available soon for preview and purchase. πŸ“–πŸ’—

See previously published post, titled, “Rediscovering My Tumbleweed Spirt,” where I write about this childhood place. https://myinspiredlife.org/2019/08/12/rediscovering-my-tumbleweed-spirit/

Picture 1: A trail at the base of East Wing Mountain Picture 2: Lone jackrabbit with a damaged ear, in a field near New River Trail

Β© 2020 Michele Lee Sefton.

17 thoughts on “Tumbleweed Fortress (poem w/audio)

  1. kdkinaz

    I love that you’re recording now!

    Beautiful imagery and sentiment. Oh, the freedom and innocence of youth. Heavy sigh.

    Thank you.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. 😊 I used to tell my students, poems, like songs should be heard. Yes, although I would not want to do it all again, I wouldn’t mind being a dusty carefree kid again – if for just a day.🌞🌻


  2. Like castles in the sand, never meant to last, but built through the happiness of our hearts in the freedom of our youth, time and again. Your wonderful poem took me back to my childhood, to a land bound with snow – and, makeshift igloo forts. In the weathered faces of adult concerns for snow plows and cleared roads, stacked ice brought opportunity to dream and to build. Today, you have brought a smile to my face, Michele. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Right on, Michele. It’s truly a beautiful story, the opportunity to read for which I’m very happy and thank you for sharing, having evoked fond memories for me, in so doing. In addition to your wonderful poetic expression – and, delightful voice – you also have a really cool sounding url 😎 One more time, my friend…you rock!!! πŸ’―

        Liked by 1 person

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