List of Great Midwestern Sorrows

by Benjamin Covey


Tuned to tidal shimmer of cottonwood leaves, tuned to the drop of the hickory nut onto car roof, tuned to dogwood spitting tiny white petals and painting flower bed into blank canvas. Over-caffeinated highway drive, eyes glued to interstate, mechanical land folding over into origami apocalypse. White knuckles with GPS solidarity, with atlas solidarity, with lost mother solidarity, clutching babies to chests in ditches and waiting for the tornado to pass, sitting on porch swings and watching the floodwaters rising solidarity. Old-country church lessons. Abandoned schoolhouse lessons. Classic car engine song, lessons in the gearshift. The broken earth where once stood windbreak trees, hiding foxes during thunderstorms - these lessons kill me. Blackberry stained palms like sin, gooseberry astringency, bitter cherry rescue me, sinking into this soft gray mud - Civil War bones, native blood bones, flint-knapped teeth, ankle-biting bones.  The tearful gaze of abandoned burrow. The tearful gaze of roadkill rarity, of buzzard-beak upheaval, of empty winter expanse, the tearful gaze of these terrible machines, they steal our peace in the night, the tearful gaze of canicular sunset watercolor in the wake of biblical rain, the tearful gaze of wind-flattened haybarn. Windmill by a lake green with duckweed. Trailer parked for years in limestone quarry, constellation shotgun holes. Dirt road, painted autumn leaves. Dirt road swallowed by the earth. Dirt road pheasant tail, forest fire red; anger in that plumage. Anger in the tiny birds, anger in the field mouse and vole, anger in the milkweed, compass plant, rattlesnake master, anger in the monarch - the Sandhills trumpet overhead and I crane my neck to watch them make their run for greener places:
they mate for life, you know.

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