Snobs everywhere make fun of this landscape,
but while driving up Highway 59 I see the light.
When the light of the late day becomes magic hour
wheat fields shimmer; grain elevators glow.
Monet, Van Gogh: they’d go for this big time.
But what do Impressionistic eyes really see?
Coming into Moran there’s a sun-bleached sign by the road:
HOME OF DEBBIE BARNES, MISS AMERICA 1968.
One person who saw this sign
was a basketball star for Ottawa College
who’d drive to Kansas University in Lawrence
and over one spring rape seven women,
all as beautiful as Miss America.
He drove this road, at this time, in this light.
Did his imagination do anything with this landscape?
Why couldn’t beauty better him?
Touch him? Uplift him? Stop him?
Or did beauty drive him to grab hold of it before –
like the light of magic hour – it faded?
I drive to Lawrence in heavenly light and wonder
if something like him is part of every landscape.
Frank Higgins is both a playwright and poet. His play Black Pearl Sings has been one of the most produced in the country over the last few years. His books of poetry include Starting From Ellis Island, Bkmk Press. He teaches playwriting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Maril Crabtree spent her childhood in Memphis and grew up in New Orleans, but married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and her poems have appeared in I-70 Review, DMQ Review, Spank the Carp, and others. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014); some of her poems can be seen at www.marilcrabtree.com