December 5, 2007
Here you can "Heal, Or Choose Not to Heal..."
Smith Falls on the Niobrara River and Niobrara River near Meadville by Algis J. Laukaitis.
This is a place for things that take time. Long histories
that need to be unrolled and laid out across oak library tables,
with a hard backed book set on each corner to keep them pressed open.
Here, we understand that shadows fold their wings and settle down
in midday, tucked underfoot like a coyote den the unschooled never
notice. We can see a fire in the next county, the smoke a thundercloud
of blackbirds twirling for fall, grouping and regrouping themselves
as though to remember something already lost, washed out
and splayed in the wet clay of the creek bed. You can drive
an entire afternoon here and not see a person, but all the way
the meadowlarks will be opening the doors of their throats,
letting out music like milkweed seeds delivered downwind.
You might start counting those birds after awhile, picture them
as mile markers on the telephone wires, wondering if you’ve seen
the same one over and over again. We have more stars here, so many
that strangers think there is something wrong with our sky, that it’s
fake or that Sioux women have beaded our night with constellations
not seen in Minneapolis or Memphis, fresh ones that we can give
names to as we lie on the hood of the car. We can call one Mountain
Lion Reclaims Ancestral Home, after the cougar who roamed up
a wooded thicket into Omaha this fall, ranging until the zoo director
shot him with a tranquilizer dart. Here we can keep naming star puzzles
until the threat of sunrise blues the black space above us.
This is a place for things that take time, the long stitching together
of soft spots in the heart, the wind across the Missouri River Valley
scooping loess into hills unlike any others on this continent,
seeds stored in the cellar of the prairie for a hundred years
patient for fire, unable to crack themselves open without it.
This is a place where disappointments deep as aquifer
can spill themselves out, fill up and empty again, as many times
as the wound requires. This is a place where a person can heal,
or choose not to heal. We have both kinds.
Nebraska shared with the permission of Kelly Madigan Erlandson