48. Centering the House

Winner of the Kansas Poetry Month contest, week one: storms (professional category)

All night Kansas

the lungs of the continent

takes a sip of the galaxy

swirling stars and barbed wire

sofabeds and willows

books and doors banging open

signs disappear whole towns

ditch themselves in the countryside

I stir the coffee to center the house

the place our mothers and fathers

and theirs and theirs passed through

their aprons strung on telephone wires

this tunnel of wind this trial

makes trees throw back their heads

and the hair along our arms stand up

we’re nothing but breath on its way through the woods

— Wyatt Townley

Wyatt Townley is a fourth-generation Kansan. Her work has appeared in journals ranging from The Paris Review to Newsweek. Books of poetry include The Breathing Field (Little, Brown), Perfectly Normal (The Smith), and her new collection, The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley), which she won a Master Fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission to complete.


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