Poetry of Kansas

Prairie Life: A Sestina

The old man wary of green light
mixed with black clouds, took off
for the barn where Doc's news
lay beside Maude, its two heads
quiet, eyes closed, freaky.
The spring storm would arrive at a bad time.
The man wished the birth timing
had come before or after lightning.
Its fierce freakishness
followed by drum roll, tore off
zigzagging across the sky, headed
for a place it alone knew.
Calm weather would make it simpler he knew
to focus on Maude who in other times
had calves with one well-formed head
not two so close to dead with unlighted
eyes. No bawling cut off
by sucking warm milk. A freak
to shoot or sell to the entrepreneur of freak
shows with highway signs announcing
oddities, ripping strangers off.
The storm uneasy and ill-timed
made Maude low and sway. A ghost light
grew dim and the calf lifted one head.
The old man turned, headed
for the root cellar, away from freaks,
pulled the door shut, closed out the half light,
touched a spider's web, new
potatoes growing eyes in a box there. It's time
he resolved to give in, to send off
winter, make to spring an offering
to welcome an enigma with two heads.
Birth and storms come each year at this time.
He accepted the Earth's plan, yes even its freaks,
marveled at all mysteries old and new
bathed in sun's predestined golden light.
He prayed an offer to forgive storm's rage and other freaks,
raised his head to the slowing of rain on the cellar door and knew
in time he would emerge from the dank hole into April lightness.
__Myrne Roe, Wichita
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May 28, 2005 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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