of Emporia, travelers in a hurry
will say, unable to savor
how emptiness feeds
the eyes. All the yellows and browns
and the thousand greens
of emptiness have chosen
to shake out their blankets here,
spread them across the bone-
white rock of these hills. Nothing
but cattle here, patient souls soft
in their eyes. Tall grass for the wind
to draw its bow along, gently
or harshly, obeying the whims of the sky.
Under the weight of butterflies,
coneflowers dip and nod
like nobility. In the silence
of distance, a drover,
straight in his saddle,
charts the horizon, tallies
the riches of nothing.
~ Pat Daneman
Pat Daneman has lived in Lenexa, Kansas since 1986. Recent work appears in The Moon City Review, I-70 Review, Bellevue Poetry Review, and The Comstock Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She is poetry co-editor of Kansas City Voices magazine.
Melissa Fite Johnson, a high school English teacher, received her Master’s in English literature from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, including I-70 Review, The Little Balkans Review, The New Verse News, velvet-tail, Inscape Magazine, Cave Region Review, The Invisible Bear, HomeWords: A Project of the Kansas Poet Laureate, Kansas Time + Place, Broadsided Press: 2014 Haiku Year in Review, Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, and To the Stars through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices. In 2015, Little Balkans Press published her first book of poetry, While the Kettle’s On. Melissa and her husband, Marc, live in Pittsburg with their dog and several chickens. (www.melissafitejohnson.com)
Melissa says, “I’ve long felt that Kansas has a quiet beauty that too often goes unappreciated. This poem captures it perfectly—‘how emptiness feeds the eyes,’ all that emptiness shaking out its blanket here. The image of wind drawing its bow along tall grass is exquisite, and I know just what Daneman means. How often I’ve driven past a field of ‘nothing’ and had to suck in my breath in wonder. I love this poem.”