If You Follow Harper Road

BY Diana Swartz

past the grain silo emptied of everything
but the barn owl,
over the two small rises in the road
that, if you drive fast enough,
make your stomach turn on itself, through
the s-curves around Stray Horse Creek,
over the irrigation canal where the Faulk boy drowned,
you’ll come to a prairie, an emptiness
so big, your throat will twist into a fist
and vertigo will veil your gaze
over the edge of the earth.
Here, in the dead of winter the clouds sweep
over the land, like a gray eiderdown blanket,
heavy with the remnants of an emaciated life.
The snow falls and thickens and falls,
until everything is bone white.
You might see the cows there,
black herefords.
You might watch as they file
into a long procession
and plod, instinctively and resolutely,
toward the draw to gather in where
they will shield their pregnant bellies
from the wind making snow spears.
You might see them encounter
the fence line instead,
just before the draw,
where they will huddle,
black backs turning white,
heads buried between each other’s bodies.
One heaving mass.
And then, two days later,
as the snow crystallizes into crust under a blue sky,
you will find them there, together,
statues of devotion, frozen gaze
over the edge of the earth.

Diana Swartz has a couple degrees from the University of Wyoming that she is currently not using as she returns to writing while learning to mother. This is Diana’s first published poem. She lives in Laramie, WY.

Image Credit: “Dangerous Road”
Read by Jesús Rivera

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