A few summers ago I spent six weeks in North Dakota and Saskatchewan studying the literature of the Great Plains, including the work of Wallace Stegner and Willa Cather. It was a wonderful experience to have so much time to devote to these writers who put their love of the land into their writing. Here is just one poem that came out of that summer.
“That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.”
Willa Cather, gravestone inscription, Jaffrey Center,NH
Her chiseled words gouge readers who edge too close.
But she didn’t linger long among white mountain pines.
Her ink still rents rooms in a scrabbling prairie town.
But she doesn’t haunt lanes humming dance tunes
Her desire scatters in grass, sky, wind, earth, tongues.
But she doesn’t watch pious suns kneel down in canyons.
Today a back door wandered open in a barren farmhouse.
Inside, she fingered cobwebs like strings on a foreign fiddle.
Common Ground Review, Spring/Summer 2008
Oh, my good lord, Julia, this poem is so marvelous. The special forlorn quality that the prairie gave me rushes from your words. Perhaps forlorn isn’t the right word. I’m toying with the idea that I might go back in the fall, rent a car, and just look for images of ‘Wabi Sabi. People go on long trips to shoot ruined castles in Europe when they could go to the prairie.
I continue to hope for a final experience like the end of My Antonia. At least I have the memory of it.
Fall would be a beautiful time to go. It’s golden then — late September, early October. Lots of Wabi Sabi to find there. I’d get off the interstates. I haven’t read it, but maybe Blue Highways http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Highways-Journey-into-America/dp/0316353299 might offer some interesting places to visit. The problem, of course, is that it’s a LOT of driving and the gas tank needs to be full because you just never know.
Beautiful post. I very much enjoy Willa Cather’s books.
So glad to hear you say that and thanks for visiting!
Pingback: I Saw Sunday « Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition
Lovely poem and photo! I was born and raised in North Dakota. I currently I live in Fargo, ND and work as a Graphic Designer for the local paper. My music/photography is heavily influenced by these beautiful lands, and I’m glad that even though you have moved off the plains physically, your heart still roams here amongst the tall grass and open skies.
Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful « Mike Hardisty Photography