North

ward, I compass,
homebound

in the horizontal fold
of contiguous America

 
Mississippi my coordinate
axis. Why run upriver

against its stream as if
I could graph

points of loneliness
against solitude

 
Manning
houses collected
against farm fields

contemporary
country of faded

grassways, black
susans, dots
of purple harebell,
thistle, false

 
aster interlaced

or translate times
of contentment back

to one origin?

Why run anywhere
but to the beginning

of breath,
before birth

 
breath
connected to lake shore

by such short grained green

exultant inhalation
taking in

 
green near tractor ruts
where children are

branched

the low tree
sweeping us
up and down –

wet bodies
set to dry

in the shade

cold cut
sandwiches
apple slices

 
country girls drunk in trails
of alfalfa

such clutch of wildflowers

of breath,
which needs
its atmosphere
mixed

 
just right
just right

to be a breath

a song of country roads
a necessary check

loneliness
solitude

 
empty basket swinging

between child and near-woman

heading home
 

Midwestern Gothic, Volume 15, Fall 2014