The greening of the trees in spring rain,
see-through trees like a lacy negligee, the nesting bird
watches from the half-leafed trees.
Calves balancing on gentle hills rub their noses in the wet grasses.
One stands wobbly, leans against its mother.
Others watch their mothers watching them, nibble a bit, suckle,
wander about the remains of last fall’s tattered harvest.
Darkest brown, Iowa’s earth, earth that dips
and dances. We’ve driven past the Kansas grasslands,
and not yet reached the prairie flat of Illinois.
See the family plot tucked tightly between
the edge of the woods and the tilled field;
Splintered posts and strands of wire mark its boundary.
Roughly hewed stones, two rows of three, the mossy inscriptions illegible.
Though one, a mother’s marker, is split in half – part upright,
part broken off and tipped into the rain-soaked grass.
The roughened quarry block, now a rest stop for crows,
splats of white the only sign of life.
Clouds hang gray, so low I yearn to stand
and push them high into the skies, high enough to punch an opening into the dim blueness
that is Midwestern sky, give sunlight to the earth.
Yet fog lingers, sky primed in deep grays.
We pass a highway sign, What Cheer, population 142. Twenty miles south.
I wish to see a town worthy of this name, but we’re on the fourth morning of steady travel.
There is no will to detour.
Tonight we sleep in the familiar ridges and valleys of our familiar bed.
First I will say hello to the house I left a hundred days ago,
walk through the rooms I know by memory, peer out the back window at the apple tree.
I’m told no blossoms remain.
I bought a primitive statue of a woman last summer from a stone sculptor the next booth over.
She toppled in a winter storm. My husband mentions this
as he pulls into the Save-n-Go in Dubuque for gas and coffee.
Tomorrow morning I’ll push her upright so we can watch the garden together.
We will meet, eye to eye, and reflect on the greenness of Midwest spring.
Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. After four days of cross-country travel, Bo is back home in the Midwest.