Above the Prairies Now Plowed
Above the prairies now plowedto farmland a wake of buzzards circlessomething dead in the field.It is July. My grandmother has died.We are returning to the hills.In the front seat, my mother'sshoulders rise and falllike creek watertrembling over a boulderleft a billion years agoby an ocean we believe inbecause, although it is dry now,it seems right that we comefrom granite and sea.When my father, driving, explainshow it happened—the bleeding—we pull over so my mother can be sick.In the ditch by the exit for Plankinton,the sun is as hot as I remember it.Soon, we will reach the Missouri Riverand the flat land will begin to crease.Because my mother's silver hair is too shortto hold while she vomits, I put a handon the small of her back. After the rivercome the badlands. After the badlands,the hills grow black and softinto skies that force their own kindof weather. My mother knowsthis journey well, has probably traveledwest on 90 every year since I was born. She asksto switch me places, so that she might liedown in the backseat. I try to make hera bed from a jacket and a pillow.What can I do to ease her terror?My mother. I've never seen herall at once before.
Copyright © 2021 by Chelsea B. DesAutels.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Chelsea B. DesAutels is the author of A Dangerous Place (Sarabande Books, 2021), a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her work appears in Copper Nickel, Massachusetts Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southeast Review, and elsewhere, and has been featured on The Slowdown podcast. Chelsea lives with her family in Minneapolis.
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