We ride knife-cut roads across this back / of continent to the prairie’s torn edge / to a place where shadows limn loess
We ride knife-cut roads across this back
of continent to the prairie’s torn edge,
to a place where shadows limn loess
and we stalk the grass for wind-tossed things,
where Bennie croons a cowboy song
outside the Emma Chase Cafe,
where townspeople circle, curious,
speaking of the ranch land, their amber
waves of bounty land, gill-snagged
gleam-bellied sunbass land,
where a dipper punches the velvet dark,
we draw lines through pinpoint stars—
lines drawn through us too, through Bennie
and Marie who lost two daughters too young.
Knees pressed to earth we steady
our hearts against a purple sky
that dares to swing us open.
In a curbside motel of fat-seeded melons
and muted light, we laugh crowded, aching,
recalling the woman who touched Kristen’s locs
in a one-room Strong City church house;
they ask me, where were you born
though they don’t mean it like that, I think—
on this land where their plows broke the plain
and settled wheat corn sorghum in loam.
Here, in the Flint Hills, in these last
stands of big bluestem and indian grass
we pry up tangled nether drums of roots
and bury our elsewheres like tubers
in this same and human sod.