Painting Memories Through Words

By Susan Jacobson

The sunsets pictured in Priscilla’s snapshots often serve as inspirations. Photos Courtesy of Priscilla Armitage.

A beautiful expansive view of fields, trees and mountain tops greet poet Priscilla Benscoter Armitage each day in Southwick, Idaho. She has been a poet her whole life. Bringing stories to life by setting them to rhyme has served as a hobby, a form of therapy and a way to pass down history to the next generation.

Priscilla has had many experiences, as her poem “Wrinkles” shares. She grew up on American Ridge and moved to Southwick when she got married. She and her husband raised 2 children, tended cattle, grew grain and logged. Full of happiness and tragedy, her poems speak to a life well-lived.

Priscilla’s inspiration comes from many sources.

“I try to have a message in each poem, but there isn’t hidden meaning,” she says. “I don’t write about fluff. I just say it right out.”

She writes about daily life, the past, politics, her Christian faith and stories of her childhood to pass down to family.

Granddaughter Amber Ford and Priscilla share in that special “granny” love.

Humble about her gifts, Priscilla’s granddaughters, Jenny and Amber Ford, expanded insight on their “Granny.”

Jenny, so moved by her grandmother’s talents, choked back tears describing the gift Priscilla brings to people everywhere.

“My Granny writes in a way that is moving and impactful,” Jenny says. “She is able to articulate information about being in and experiencing nature so clearly that it gives people in other places the ability to share in it.”

Stories about fields, trees and mountains are often found in her poetry. Priscilla echoes appreciation for the forest and farming industries which kept food on the table for her family and a love of the land she grew up on.

Priscilla Armitage grew up on American Ridge and spent most of her life farming, ranching and logging in Southwick, Idaho. The people, her experiences and love of the land have provided a lifetime of poetry.

A multifaceted creative who also paints, draws, takes photos, bakes and gardens, Priscilla got serious about poetry in the eighth grade. It was a teacher who encouraged her to begin writing regularly. She filled piles of notebooks with her work. Priscilla has finished one book and is beginning to select poems for a second volume.

For Priscilla, writing provides an outlet to deal with and work on frustration or things that are difficult to talk about.

“Sometimes I write down things that I can’t say or change,” Priscilla says.

Some she shares with others, and some end up for her eyes only.

Poetry also helped keep the sadness of isolation at bay during the pandemic. It allowed Priscilla to navigate tragedy as reflected in one of the poems written about the loss of her son.

Her poetry has been featured in various settings. Some have been put to music, added to art, recited at the annual Arbor Day celebration, published in her book “Homespun Reflections” and the following excerpt from “The Barn,” published in a calendar.

The old barn settles in for night
And braces for a storm
So cold now, when in better years
It was a haven safe and warm
With chores all done at end of day
And in the darkness heard
The sounds of rustling hay
In all the mangers stirred
Sweet memories now linger there
Within each empty stall
Where once was life and strength and love
And care was given all

As a lifelong learner, her granddaughters say, Priscilla is always absorbing information. She maintains an open mind and curiosity about the world near and far.

The sunset, captured by Priscilla, gleams atop the prairie outside of Southwick, Idaho.

“For someone who is older and lived in small towns for most of her life, her beliefs don’t get in the way of seeing a human for who they are,” Amber says. “Granny has a very balanced way of looking at things.”

Priscilla stays up to date on current events and recently wrote a poem about the crisis in Ukraine.

“She feels things very deeply for others,” Amber says. “Granny thinks about all the aspects and in a complex way that lots of people might fail to consider or even notice.”

Priscilla never sits still, either. Whether it was during the years of farming, having to drive the trucks, cooking, cleaning for family and hired hands, gardening, coauthoring books on local history or working in the community, she continues to stay active. Through Priscilla’s many gifts, the world has the chance to experience the harvest of her action through the vivid imagery she puts to verse.


Upon a face without a trace
Of anything unplanned
God wrote the story of my life
With His all knowing hand
The frowns and smiles from many miles
Too many now to number
With many years of trials and tears
Craving peaceful slumber
And many hands with great demands
Too urgent to ignore
I put aside selfish pride
That drained me to the core
Each facial line I know is mine
Drawn by time and care
A story old in part untold
That time has written there

Slumbering Shadows

In the eventide when the quiet comes
And red clouds fast turn to gray
The sun shrinks behind the
mountain blue
And dusk brings death to another day
Then shadows lengthen
and creep away
And into oblivion fade
To rest their weary cowering souls
Until another day is made

Previously published in “Homespun Reflections,” May 1998

Northern Lights

Delicate shards
Of softened hues
Pierce the midnight sky
A glorious dance
Of pastels
Delightful to the eye
While man and beast
In breathless awe
And humbled adoration
Watch with wonder
As God plays
With all of His creation

His Hands

Tiny baby hands touching all my life
Tugging at my heart makes me more than wife
Chubby little hands clinging to my skirt
Grubby busy hands digging in the dirt
Strong young able hands finding pride in work
Willing heart and hands not allowed to shirk
Lending helpful hands finding those in need
Ample giving hands providing help in deed
Manly hands of comfort reaching out in care
Trusting quiet hands folded oft in prayer
Picking up his hand from the frozen sod
With aching, breaking heart committing him
to God

Previously published in “Homespun Reflections,” May 1998