David Wright The 2River View, 7.1 (Fall 2002)

Looking at Roadside Bluestem Before Leaving Decatur


A littered gully fills with tire carcasses, beer bottles, a bed of random gravel,
          and two nailed pieces of green painted two-by-four.

The air tastes thick, too heavy with factory drafts—
          burnt rubber, roasted soybeans, yeast, and corn distilled to nectar.

God we love what they send on the wind,
          what we leave in the gullies,
          what they leave in our pockets,
          what they leave in our lungs.

We love this scent of money, the dry, paper taste on the backs of our tongues.

We love these old plants while they live.


Against blue-purple culms, silk filaments catch backlight.

Against blue but septic skies, forage grass appears from attention and neglect.

The copper colored turkey claw gives the universe the finger.

Fires in the fall smooth the dry horizon but will not flare
          to where these seeds, their tender shoots lurk,
          buried under prairie,
          buried under gullies running over,
          buried after frost to rise in April.

We want to love the native grass, taller than a woman, tall as any man.

We want to stay where bluestem roots, gnarled like human nerves,
          prosper under blackest dirt,
          refuse to wither during winter,
          drink from sources purer than the air.

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