Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Jackie Magnuson Ash’

56. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Jackie Magnuson Ash

If a man asked her about Kansas wheat and cattle,
she’d tell him once upon a time they paid for
her Easter dresses and Christmas presents, trips
to the dentist, her college degree. Manure, slick
and underfoot, and sharp sunny kernels pouring
from spouts to waiting truck beds help to tell
the story vining around her, deep-rooted. But at night
crowds of stars still wink at her, pull her toward them
as she stands and watches from the old corral, soil
pushing up spring grasses, the fences gone now.

– Jackie Magnuson Ash

97. Dreams and Consequences

As if someone whispers my name

I awake. In darkness the scent

of swathed hay drifts through open windows.

A bird has yet to herald dawn. Even so,

the transient sweet air pulls me

out of night. Sense and thought collide.

 

In the small nursing home down the road

Mother too most likely lies awake.

Her windows are shut, sounds and smells

trapped inside. Sleep has escaped her

for days, but not dreams. They crook

their fingers, dare her to follow.

 

If I knew someone with money and a car,

she muttered yesterday, her face set hard,

I’d get the hell out of here, as if

it were the Dirty Thirties and she,

stuck in dusty old Kansas. I picture

a lit cigarette sitting beside her

in a heavy glass ashtray, her eyes

squinting through a coil of smoke.

 

The fragrance of raked alfalfa

and something more, something dark

and fresh, circles me. It belongs to

rope swings, bicycles, clothes on the line,

Mother handing me a laundry basket

before she turns back to frying chicken.

It belongs to the pop-pop of the old

John Deere 70, to young hired men,

to Dad showing how to work a clutch.

 

As windows glimmer like ghosts

I stay where I am, knowing the day

will break like any other. The carrier

will deliver the paper, the first

bird will soon call out, and then

I will rise, not minding too much

this early start. It is, after all, summer

and fledglings sing for the first time

and sail from tree to tree, determined

to answer to instinct, to fly on their own.

Jackie Magnuson Ash grew up on a farm in central Kansas, later to return to raise two children and help her husband manage the farm business. She holds an English degree from Emporia State University and is a member of Prairie Poets and Writers, a Salina group which self-published its work in PlainSpoken: Chosen Lives, Chosen Words.

 

83. Earthfallen

Without the moon the domed sky

deepens and fills with stars, spills

 

sparks into solid dark

of the windbreak across the field

 

Tips of light dip, dance

in summer’s heat, slip

 

through rising scent

of dampening soil, through song

of coyotes lifting

 

through sweep of freedom granted

by night and by desire

– Jackie Magnuson Ash

A previous version published in PlainSpoken: Chosen Lives, Chosen Words

Jackie Magnuson Ash grew up on a farm in central Kansas, later to return to raise two children and help her husband manage the farm business. She holds an English degree from Emporia State University and is a member of Prairie Poets and Writers, a Salina group which self-published its work in PlainSpoken: Chosen Lives, Chosen Words.

 

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