Please do not expect to have to climb
to see more than a few hours of sun.
Exchange vertical dreams for horizontal
ones. Road cuts here have no
“Falling Rocks” signs. Forget switchbacks.
Practice right angle turns. Forget S-turns.
Forget roads that vanish anywhere
but at a point on the horizon.
Finally feel the full weight
of the sky on your shoulders.
Learn the ways of clouds and wind.
Watch for birds that sing while
hovering in air; they have learned
to make do in the absence of trees.
You will learn to make do.
You will go places where you
will be the tallest thing. Then you
will walk a while longer and the grass
will be taller than you. Watch for
the migration of combines; that is a sign
there will traffic jams at grain elevators.
Observe rivers that meander
over the flat landscape;
the people here are also prone
to meander. Learn to ski cross-country.
Learn how snow drifts. Learn how hills
are just waves of prairie.
Trade pavement and cement
for the density of tall grass roots and sod.
Find that you, too, have finally become
addicted to the vastness of prairie skies.
Come to know, in the end,
that there is no cure.
~ Roy J. Beckemeyer
Roy Beckemeyer has most recently had poems in the periodicals: Coal City Review, The Lyric, and The Journal of Kansas Civic Leadership; the anthologies: Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, and To The Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices; and the web page: 200 New Mexico Poems.
2 thoughts on “Initiation Song from the Prairie by Roy J. Beckemeyer”
This poem makes me want to return to Kansas – from the vertical east (Virginia) to the horizontal prairie
Thanks, Caroline. Those prairie skies do stick with you – all that light, all those clouds…