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Walking in the Heartland

for Nellie May (Barnett) Ferrin

Over rolling hills pocked with buffalo wallows,
I walked with Grandma Nellie on the rutted pasture road.

"Imagine the Indians," Grandma said,
Then painted vanished Comanches with words,
Telling me that an Indian boy would have heard
The same whisper of wind in the prairie grass,
The same dry rattle of cottonwood leaves,
And the boy would have sniffed, just like me,
To smell the creek in its sun-dappled bed
As it ran beneath the trees.

In my mind, another age blossomed,
Before barbed wire or earth-turning plows.

"We live in the heartland, center of the U.S.A.",
Grandma Nellie told me, as she spread a map
To show me where we'd walked that day.
On that map, Kansas was yellow
As ripened waves of wind-tossed wheat,
Sunflowers by the roadside,
Or the warmth of summer sunshine
In my memory of the heartland
Where Grandma walked with me.

_Jerry D. Ferrin, 23 Feb 1989.

March 28, 2001 / John & Susan Howell / howell@kotn.org

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