(from Prairie Midden)
Dear Prairie Daughters
How do we miss
what we’ve never had?
How can we carry
ourselves as pilgrims,
thinking we’ve arrived
at the holy place
where fire christened grass
and bison knelt in wind and snow
and the ancestors of others
cursed and loved?
I know a nursery woman
who walks railroad berms
in search of native seeds.
Those seeds hold prairie’s
fierce and lusty story.
How do we miss what we’ve never had?
Follow where she puts her hands.
Mornings Before the Texas High-Noon Heat
My mother hauled the white plastic basket to the yard,
an apron with pockets full of wooden pins
tied around her post-partum waist. She set the basket
down in yellow mortal grass, the smell of bleach
stirring up from hard-wrung cloth. But first
she had to move along the lines plucking
slugs from their precarious perches, shiny
acrobats stretched out in slender viscous arcs
high and clean in the dry morning air.
Each one she plucked, dozens of them some days,
she threw down, smashed with her shoe,
one silken body at a time, pressing each
into the red dirt. And when she'd cleared
the slugs she stroked a cloth along the lines
before shaking out panties, handkerchiefs,
white shirts, pillowcases, her Sunday dress,
washcloths and teatowels, diapers, draping their corners
lightly, pinning them fast, and then going
back into the house to wash her hands, to start
another load, sit before a fan, her skirt
pulled up above her knees, and cool down
enough to move to the piano where she
practiced Chopin while the washer spun and
the sun cast human shadows across the silver smudges.
a safe, well-defined acceptable unknown
A fantastic exploration of Athena’s poem “a safe, well-defined acceptable unknown” by Rebecca Foust. Be sure to click through to her mini-essay.
Consider the Onion
Thank you to Robert Nazarene and James Wilson
Thank you to the editors of SWWIM
A poem in Course, and also one of the poems in the song cycle “I Give Voice to My Mother,” composed by Linda Kachelmeier
Love Like Horses
Thanks to the editors of RHINO, where this poem first appeared
Several poems with thanks to Carolyn Zukowski
The Barbed Wire Saint
saint of vagabonds, trespassers, bumpkins,
met herself coming and going.
After that jaunt around the place
you'd think she would have picked up some gossip.
Held her tongue though,
tightened her belt.
She'd skinny past any obstacle.
You could get hung up on her,
a prickly priestly love,
closer to s & m
than to a pedestal.
The barbed wire saint
wore her medals and milagros
wherever she went,
little bows little kisses little tinsel smooches.
When the authorities had had enough—
and admittedly it took them awhile—
the saint was old as the hills.
They put a question or two,
pulled out a few nails.
She took her secrets to the grave.
Background Painting (detail) by Dusty Griffith