[Speak of prairie smoke blooming,]

Athena Kildegaard

Speak of prairie smoke blooming,                and asters, hyssop, vervain,                the whole prairie aswirl in points of light                as if the night sky                had turned inside outof the night sky pulling up its skirtsof an owl with a mouse in its heart,                a coyote with an owl in its heart,                a sharp-shinned hawk red as sunsetof leadplant heaving into purple,                aster spindled as dawn,                blazing star holding their fans aloftof switchgrass, sideoats grama,                indiangrass, how they move                with such pietyof the moon and below it fox,                hunger following eachof the path to the waterof potholes where mergansers,                coots, pintails, dip                as if they are in holy water

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Athena Kildegaard is the author of six books of poetry and the co-editor of Rocked by the Waters: Poems of Motherhood. Her poems have been set to music by Jennifer Higdon, Linda Kachelmeier, Frank Horvat, Jonathan Newmark, Mina Esary, and other composers. She teaches at the University of Minnesota Morris.

"In Prairie Midden, Athena Kildegaard delves into the archives and recovers and revivifies what was kept of the voices of settler women. She brings them into conversation with this moment—weaving a braid of voices from 19th century all the way to the 21st. These voices that build across centuries are at turns poignant, ruminative, and elegiac for not only people but also the prairie. They speak to settler and settled life in a place shaped in the name of 'progress.' I appreciate the way this moving collection brings me into these lives, and as the speaker of one of the 'Dear prairie daughters' poems says 'the only connections are the ones we make.' You'll be grateful to connect with Prairie Midden."
—Sean Hill, author of Dangerous Goods

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