Spiritland: Images of the American Midwest
Sunny Midi memories:
Ochre washed walls, navy blue Med
Lavenderthyme in my nose & mouth
Moved by Monet in Chicago
The color, the light, the South of France
Brought tears of loss & joy to my eyes
Back, always back to the Midwest
Stripmalls, embarrassing atolls in their seas of grey asphalt
Outside, the breadbasket of America looms large
Dull grey landscape between notorious coasts
This is me, this is what I’m left with
Daughter of the Plains, plain Jane
No sunflowers, medieval villages, renowned light
By which to paint.
First, a slow dawn in late summer afternoon:
I-65 blues transformed by long gold rays, turning
Cornfields into rows of fire, shimmering soybeans
Into Emerald City geometry. Treelines beckoned
Blue-green and mysterious, anchoring apricot clouds;
Diminutive dinosaurs they call Blue Herons pierced
Wisconsin wetlandsilence under an aqua-bowl sky.
This was my transformation/salvation: landscape
Shaking me alive to a beauty, primeval, ageless,
Existing quiet all alongside shopping centers, interstates
Hidden even, in the rolling boredom of Southcentral Ohio
Chiaroscuro cliffs revered by former races now revealing
Spirituality to me like a great womp over the head, like
Interrogation lamps after dark silence.
But deliberate, stronger now it works its magic:
Looking up into the mystery of my grey Midwestern sky
I see dizzydance snowflakes & omen-black swaths of
Migratory birds; like them, I find myself lifted on ancient air streams;
In my sticky summer rivervalley, Payne’s thunderclouds release
Cool sheets of silver I wrap around myself after a long draught.
I look through my rainwashed prism, colors crystallize, come alive
My magic is here; I’ve found my home.
Pamela J. Polley, 1/98