Susan Buchanan

In Flat Ohio Cornfields One Week Post 9/11

In flat Ohio cornfields
Russet barns with rusted silos sprout
White farmhouses
And everywhere the stars and stripes of America
Half droop in sorrow
Half rise in hope
Beneath a dove-grey sky.

Ohio cornfields give way to Illinois cornfields give way to Indiana cornfields
Nestled hard against barns with cupolas and faded paint.
We have crossed a great divide and I can hear people say
“I live just east or just west of the mighty Mississippi.”
I have Huck and Tom dreams
While trains whistle down the long line.

We detour off fast-moving, corn-blurring I-80
And wend our way to Hickman, Nebraska
In search of old romance, old struggles.
Stagecoach Lake
Wagon Train Lake.
Now men in grass-covered boats hunt with their boys, fish with their boys
All night long in a catfish derby
On a pond they call a lake dipping down in yellow cornfields.
We are stuck in a camper that won’t start.
Today we are pioneers in our own new landscape.

Robert and Demetrius the “choirboy” with their sweat-slicked faces are willing to help,
Unlike their good ol’ boy pale white counterparts.
Race relations undulate across prairie cornfields
Shaded and coloured by time and tension.

This, this thing with no real name save horror, terror, hatred, fear
Winds and bends in a taut weave across an arid land,
A valiant Wyoming mountain forest,
A fertile Idaho farm,
A small-town street in Oregon, in Washington, in California.
In flat Nebraska cornfields we have journeyed far yet not at all, the same hatred spewing from the radio no matter the state we’re in.
In flat Nebraska cornfields race is like the neat rows of fields surrounding a camper that won’t start

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