Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Maril Crabtree’

26. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Maril Crabtree

Water drips and dances through years of drought and rain.

Neighbors argue over wells

that threaten to run dry. Still, harvest comes each year,

grain-laden fields compete

with oil-rigged earth, dark beaks that dip and plunge

into other shrinking pools,

the vast land scrubbed by dust, wiped clean with light

borrowed from a blazing sun,

buttered with an effervescent taste of yellow,
incense of sunflowered soil.
- Maril Crabtree

64. Memorial Day on the Prairie

Each year we plod through spring rain

or dry heat, step with care around new-broken

graves and fresh sod, nod to marbled pride,

generations with the same names as those

still alive back in town. We carefully poke

plastic roses into the ground and whisper

the ritual words. Red for the sister:

“It was her favorite color.” She died

when a drunk in a pickup smashed her red car.

Yellow for the father: “He was so cheerful.”

Except when his last years robbed him

of breath and speech. White for the stillborn

child, who wore the cord around his neck.

Sleeping in sacrificed wheat fields, these

are our loved ones: decades of harvested crops,

bread turned to stone, alone and blind

to these witnesses, scarved heads bowed.

Out here on the prairie, the wind never stops.

– Maril Crabtree

From Moving On (Pudding House Press 2010)

Maril Crabtree has lived in Kansas most of her adult life. Her poems are published in Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Steam Ticket, Kalliope, New Works Review and others. She is Poetry Co-editor of Kansas City Voices. Her most recent chapbook is Moving On (Pudding House Press, 2010).

18. Breaking the Drought

Three inches of rain! On the Kansas prairie,

those drowning in dust open their throats.

Listless milo, stunted corn, ragweed

 

and wild alfalfa stand tall. Only the Western

spruce, backyard survivor of endless high winds,

branches burned brown by waterless skies,

 

shows no change. Its owner, at ninety twice the age

of her tree, tough as buffalo grass, fragile

as winter wheat at harvest, jokes, “Everything is half dead

 

and half alive, including me.” We call for an expert.

The County Agent pokes and pinches, breaks off

brittle twigs, notes how few nodes the tree produced

 

for spring growth. When he delivers the news –

we could wait and see how it does through winter,

hope for revival – I’m tempted to agree. But when

 

my mother says, “Let’s cut it down,” I understand:

finally, something she can relieve of its suffering,

something that can come to a clear and certain end.

– Maril Crabtree

From Moving On (Pudding House Press 2010)

 

Maril Crabtree has lived in Kansas most of her adult life. Her poems are published in Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Steam Ticket, Kalliope, New Works Review and others. She is Poetry Co-editor of Kansas City Voices. Her most recent chapbook is Moving On (Pudding House Press, 2010).

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