Prairie Poetry   Peer Award Winner   Friends Prize Winner

All night, locusts fly from my dreams,
the sky peels back from sky, twin heavens
reeling in a dark net of stars.

I watch the slow dance of grain, wildflowers
burning against the prairie’s lines, the tall shadows
of grain elevators, squat bins and barns
now amalgam of aluminum and steel,
and sometimes wood.

From my window, the earth is a beggar’s vessel
awaiting rain. In the breeze, a mantle ascends,
twists in distant clouds. Each passing car, a blue glow
beyond the horizon’s curve, where dry soil lifts to the sky
in a never-ending question mark.

Each gravel road turns a vein, a slow pulse of dust
rising in waves like semaphore or sign against the clouds,
the thunder, the coming rain.

All night, I drive this empty ship into a storm,
the long-shadowed world below, the moon buttoned fast to the sky,
and the desert asking if the land would make a better sea.

  Neil Aitken
  Copyright © 2004 Neil Aitken
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