Poetry of Kansas

Winter Twilight On The Victory Highway

The mellow concave of the sky rests its pale apricot brim
On the brown edges of the Kansas prairie.
Venus and Jupiter, two distant crumbs of light,
Cling to its cerulean surface.
Twilight smudges the nearer fields
Where snow lies white in patches.
The dry cornstalks solemnly mark time
In long rustling rows
Up and over the curve of the hill
In the west seven acres.
The little house and the big barn
Draw closer together in the dusk.
Things are happening in the house
And in the barn: cosy, comfortable things
That have to do with pails and frying pans and cradles
And whatever leads to supper and an early bedtime.
Along the highway, between drifts of snow,
Leviathans with gleaming eyes
Glide ceaselessly
To the city___from the city___
From the city___to the city.
Sometimes the little house and the big barn
Delegate someone to go to the city,
Someone who is told to come back
Before it gets dark.
You see, there are so many things going on at home,
Happy duties that no one should miss.
Two wires are strung between the little house and the big barn.
From the lower one limp garments dangle:
Aprons, and heavy blue drill shirts,
And a baby's pink gingham rompers.
(It hadn't been quite cold enough to freeze them dry.)
On the upper wire there is nothing___nothing that anyone can see.
Like a fishing net of a single strand
It reaches out into the wide ocean of the air
And gathers in a harvest of messages:
Market reports and recipes, sermons and solos,
The weather, bedtime stories, and music,
Music from Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Edgewater Beach.
So busy is every living creature
In the little house and in the big barn
That not one of them cares a flip about Jurgen,
Or the marriage problem,
Or life at Deauville,
Or the tendencies of modern fiction,
Or "Sweeney among the nightingales."
,Nor would they care, even if they knew about such tiresome things,
For here at home,
New things are always going to happen,
Really intoxicating things.
They are going to get a new car, maybe, and a washing machine;
And Lady will have another Jersey calf.
Soon they will have to move the old baby into the crib
And make the cradle ready for the new baby.
They will plow the west seven acres, and get more stock;
They will buy new dishes, and a rug for the front room,
And get a loud speaker. And nothing will stop them___nothing___
Unless the day comes too soon to join a slow procession
Along the Victory highway, (Leviathans then must wait,)
Up to the little churchyard on the crest of the hill,
To add another stone to those sturdily keeping faith there now.
But in the little house they have not yet had time
To think of the slow procession.
They are young and very strong.
There is good food in the pantry, and plenty of sweet hay in tho
            big barn.
In the spring the redbud will blossom;
The pasture will be green again.
The fields must be harrowed and planted.
They will plant potatoes and beans, and put new shingles on the
The meadow lark will whistle in the stillness,
And in the barnyard
Buff Orpingtons will clatter over their yellow corn.
And every day, from morning until midnight,
Along the highway,
Between banks of evening primroses,
Blue spiderwort, and wild verbena,
Leviathans of shining nickel and enamel
Will make their swift and ceaseless journeys
To the city___from the city___
From the city___to the city.
More and more pink rompers will hang on the sagging lower wire;
And over the upper one will come messages,
Stock reports and symphonies,
Mighty music from Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Edgewater Beach.

__Helen Rhoda Hoopes

Contemporary Kansas Poetry
Helen Rhoda Hoopes
pages 66-68
(Kansas City: Joseph D. Havens Company. 1927)

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February 22, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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