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Serenade in a Kansas Wind

  • Page ID
    3713
  • Serenade in a Kansas Wind

    Malcolm Childers

    Stand

    just here,

    in such a way

    that the sweeping

    copper lines converge--

    an ever-shrinking

    prophetic mirage

    in both directions

    toward the horizon.

    Now

    close your eyes

    and lean your head back,

    so that the sun can wash

    your salty brow.

    In the amber half light

    behind your lids,

    your thoughts will focus

    on what your mind can see

    and

    something of the middle ground--

    what it means to be in this place

    where East becomes West--

    will reach out

    and touch you.

    From the early

    supple greens of spring,

    this great grass ocean

    begins to spill,

    flow,

    and flower in the wind.

    During those living months,

    birds and insects

    dance and sing--

    a primal buzzing,

    twittering floor show

    of sex,

    predation,

    and passing.

    Like

    a grand expeditionary force,

    they spread a thousand miles north from here

    into Manitoba.

    Then drying,

    their life

    begins to fall back

    like a defeated army

    clad in the the hissing

    brittle yellow of autumn.

    It retreats

    a thousand miles

    south from here

    into Tamaulipas.

    Maybe you can sense

    there used to be

    more.

    Perhaps

    you can just hear

    the American Serengeti

    that was.

    The endless brown armadas

    of large animals

    plying the grass ocean,

    the indigenous nomads

    who moved with them,

    who lived from them,

    who knew great risk

    and even greater freedom,

    who danced and sang

    their primal invocations

    of sex,

    predation,

    and passing.

    Perhaps

    you can just hear

    what it was like

    before these wires

    crossed the sky,

    before the time

    of white men,

    before everything changed

    to conform

    to their European

    God-given mandate

    to subdue

    and possess the earth.

    Still

    sometimes,

    in the thin winter light,

    long after the vacationers

    have hurried through

    without seeing,

    without caring,

    as if they had never been;

    and only an occasional semi

    reads the icy concrete pages

    as it passes indifferently

    from Dodge to Wichita,

    the wires themselves

    will sing.

    And the sound of it.

    How to describe

    that sound.

    It is

    as if all

    that has passed here in time

    where we stand

    listening

    comes again

    as a chorus of the ages.

    Within

    the penetrating hum

    and breathy moan of it,

    are the lowing of wild herds,

    the intimate passion and birth cries

    of native women,

    the ceremonial chants

    of their men,

    the screech of wheeling hawks,

    the last prayers of wounded settlers and dying braves,

    the raging curses of betrayal,

    the brass of victory bands,

    the hammering of builders,

    the buzzing of back-room dealers,

    the twittering of evening ladies,

    the rhythmic songs of workmen,

    the whistles and calls of cowboys,

    the throaty din of tractors,

    the quiet songs of farm wives,

    and the lonely rumble

    of distant trains passing through at
    twilight.

    Within the soft

    and strident passages

    of that longing sound

    there are melodies

    of a subtle and oceanic nature.

    Within those lost chords

    are intervals

    that might

    change the world

    if we only could hear them.

    If we only knew them.

    But then

    it’s only you and I listening,

    and the quite serenade rings

    endlessly on

    as if no one

    will ever

    answer the phone.