Hail-stripped cottonwoods
weep like battered wives;
yesterday's wheat fields molder
 in galvanized tombs.

It's been this way before:
the patriarchal sun turning
his gray side out like a banker
locking his door.

Main streets lie fallow
as desert bones. Tumbleweeds
dance on doorsteps.
Logo caps commiserate
round gun-racked pickup trucks
while only the crow's cry

mocks the stillness. And I –
turning a shoulder to the dark wind –
pilgrimage past the boarded school,
slip the wrought-iron portal's latch,
drop to one knee and lay a peony
on my mother's grave.

- Mark Scheel

Originally published in the Kansas Quarterly
Used by permission of the poet

November 12, 1999 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas /

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