Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Approaching Storm on the Great Plains" by Howard Stein

"Atmospheric Maw" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
Approaching Storm on the Great Plains
Howard Stein   

A late spring storm sprawls west to east,
does not ask the prairie’s
permission to advance toward us.

Whitest tall cumulous cliffs
jut far into purest blue.
Beneath, thick brush strokes
of black and gray
read like the vision of John.

Winter wheat will grow from this,
we console ourselves.
We busy our hours
as the great maw nears.

We vow to prevail –
though we know too well
that we and our winter wheat
live at the mercy of the sky.

Poet's Notes:  In my nearly thirty-five years of weekly drives from Oklahoma City to teach family physicians in rural Enid, some eighty miles to the northwest, I have witnessed and have been caught in spectacular late spring and summer storms. I also learned much about rural wheat farming families and came to admire and respect them -- and to identify with them.  I learned how their world almost totally revolved around their precious land, their wheat and cattle, their family and church -- and the sky. This poem draws from the intimate relationship between farming families and their sky on which their lives totally depend.

Editor’s Note:  This is a strong regional poem that no doubt will resonate far beyond its region.

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