In the Heartland
First published in The Sow's Ear Poetry Review 20.3, Fall 2010.
Appears in News from the North. Aired on Wisconsin Public Radio's Wisconsin Life, September 15, 2017.
It is homecoming season, Ironman season,
wasp & Concord grape season.
It is seed-head season for turkeyfoot and little bluestem,
season of dying black-eyed Susans.
Katydids' season to rasp like hooligans with wooden rattles.
It is gourd & beet season, hip & haw,
hickory & walnut, muskmelon & mushroom.
Starlings' season to mill in the burning bush,
swallows' to witter on telephone wires.
Season of rot & wither & drop,
of topple & windfall, of riot & wishbones, of drab & flame,
season of apples & honey, of awe & atonement,
of sun-wane & night-spill, of last times.
It is squirreling season, no-see-'um season,
season of grubs & peeling, of canker & worm, of purple kale,
of boarding up & closing down, of silent summerhouses,
of storm windows & choked gutters, screen storing, rakes & piles,
season of soups & cider, of Nyquil, fleece & fingerless gloves,
season of disguises, of dread, decay, decline,
of ripe & relinquish, of scour & rage, of hog-fattening,
of falling silent, turning in, closing doors,
of knuckles, ebb and resignation.
It is red-osier dogwood fruiting season.
It is the season of striped woolly bears on roads.
It is aster & clotted snakeroot floweret season, silk
of milkweed glistening, season of split pods, of muskrat prints
paddled from mire to boardwalk through the cattails,
of corn maze & cranberries, of school buses,
of whetting & whistle blasts on fields & chants & teams drilling,
of stadiums roaring like rising jets,
like the sound of a distant, deep-throated sea.