Kid, this is Iowa,

everything we are is here—
my dead grandmother as a girl
hunting fireflies in tiger lilies,
me throwing walnuts at gas cans
by the barn, stomping mud puddles,
my sticky hands lifting an apple
to my mouth. Here are dogwoods

and hills of corn that lead to more hills
of corn and more corn until the moon
comes up hot and my father
rattles the ice in his gin and tonic,
polishes his guitar. The horses

that dragged the lumber to build
my grandparents’ house still stomp
in the back pasture, swirl their tails
at fat, biting flies, and the sizzle of bacon
keeps waking me from my childhood
dreams: cattails snapping
their fingers, a badger’s green stare
caught in headlights, my grandfather’s
riding mower humming on the lawn,
confetti of clipped grass stuck
to his neck. The clouds here are so long

they stretch from the hidden parts of your blood
across the Atlantic to some lost place where
every ocean is healthy again, plump with whales,
and your forbears stand on cobblestones
around a barrel fire, licking
salted whitefish off their thumbs.

And here you are this morning, climbing
the wood fence I will always carry splinters from,
lifting your body into the smoke of
our leaf fire, great plumes of it reminding us
we were born to keep moving here, keep
leaving here, keep killing these fields and hills,
twisting them into smoke, then bringing them back.

Copyright © 2016 Jeffrey Bean. This poem originally appeared in The Missouri Review. Used with permission of the author.