Driving through Kansas

Patricia Hanahoe-Dosch

 

Yellow tasseled, pale green corn and wheat, the color
of dust by the side of the road, ripple
the width and length of the Kansas plains on all sides
of the black strip of freeway within the bowl-shaped
horizons encircling all like distant
blue and white stained fences. The only relief
comes from fleeting clumps of black and white, or brown, cows
and occasional puffs of sheep. If a tree
rustles and bows, graciously, in the breath
the day's heat exhales, continuously, it is a momentary
glimpse of vertical life, shadows hovering protectively around
a farm house, barn, or silo. Such sightings are islands
of bark, leaves, wood streaked with white paint, iron or tin
colors, sparks of sunlight off glass windows, in a wide sea
of yellowing grass pastures
streaked with piles of cow dung and cracked earth, torn up
by hooves, heat, or darker weather churning across the plains.

As the day grows, so does the wind, by evening,
even billboards flutter and knock
against the air as though trying to escape the plains.
The bowl of horizons now revolves in slow circles, moving
as black clouds slowly accumulate like mud in a pig sty,
and rain, when it comes, falls from the black, aerial accumulation
like spit, then harder, then the thunder and wind,
stomping and groaning like a herd of cows,
and then the lightening, fire lit veins along the planet's outer skin,
and finally, hail, discarded teeth
thrown onto the thirsty ground, which, greedy and fecund,
slowly absorbs it all.

So, in the morning, outside my hotel, only the battered face
of a handicap sign remains
as evidence of what has passed. It lies
an inch from my van's tires. The windshield is unbroken
and washed clean, like everything else
in the parking lot and fields surrounding the truck stop,
a gas, oil, and junk food haven beside the asphalt that divides
field from field, from another field, and another,
and the Biblical bill boards, the exits that beg all passing through to consider

a god of hail, thunder and flood.

 

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