“Kansas Drought” by Iris Wilkinson

1150860_10201817201337491_1439121457_nKansas Drought

Last week, Rain made puddles along the curb and the white chrysanthemums bent over

as though they wanted more to drink.

The air tasted like baking soda, fresh and gritty and the odors are absorbed,

absolving us for a brief moment from the unending guilt

which comes knowing just exactly what we’ve all done to our Mother.

Yesterday when I tried to dig up a spot to plant iris under the oak tree, the dirt was dried up and

dead, parched, heavy chunks, sort of like concrete. Frantic,

I dug deeper and was finally able to breathe when I found one small worm – a sign of life.

Rain came again this morning for a short visit and I wanted to offer her a homemade green

tomato pickle and a hot corn biscuit with apricot jam.


Iris Wilkinson lives in North Lawrence, just off the banks of the Kaw River. She enjoys leading a creative writing group for the women at the county jail and is thankful for her day job as a college professor at Washburn University.

chosen by Dennis Etzel Jr.

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. His chapbook The Sum of Two Mothers was released by ELJ Publications in 2013, and his work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, DIAGRAM, and others. He is a TALK Scholar and Speaker for the Kansas Humanities Council, and volunteers for the YWCA of Topeka and Midland Hospice. His website is http://www.dennisetzeljr.com.

Dennis says, “This ecopoem really surprised me. It is truly of time and place, addressing via a meditation a subtle crisis on both personal and global levels ‘from the unending guilt / which comes knowing just exactly what we’ve all done to our Mother.’ One can only do what one can do from the signs found in nature–and in poems–‘I found one small worm – a sign of life.’ I am still captured by its call for my own attention to life.”


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