Driving through the Illinois Prairie
By Mo Conlan
(I sometimes find old poems and delight in rewriting, polishing and editing them. This is a shined-up prose poem. )
The land flows endlessly in all directions, steam-roller flat, the sky an immense neon blue vault.
White farmhouses and red barns are dwarfedby the enormity of this Prairie. (Only a city as large as Chicago can soften its grip.)
Lonely, some say, these farms, prosperous and sturdy, yet small against the land, trees ringing homesteads against the wind.
But there is no escaping this wind. It whistles, moans, sighs – at night skitters across the roof on small creature feet.
I see beauty in the softened shades of grays and muted yellows of the Prairie on the verge of spring.
Stubbles of yellow corn stalks glow against rich black soil.
“The farmers are itching to get into the fields and plant,” says my sister.
Though a city girl, she has come to love the Prairie and her husband’s people here.
Winter hangs on hard, past the usual planting date.
Farmers watch the weather and run fingers through the soil – waiting to plant fallow fields, waiting to see shoots of corn and soybeans poke through the earth.
My brother-in-law grew up on a farm here. He tried to escape the Prairie. Left. Returned. It had soaked into his bones.
I see in him and his like a sturdiness – dropped into this huge landscape, sometimes humbled by it, but enduring on the land -- planting, harvesting, raising families.
An earthbound goodness is what I find on this lonesome late-winter Prairie.
Mo Conlan – revised October, 2012