In honor of Kansas statement turning 154 years old, while Kansas land and sky is tens of thousands of years ago, I offer this poem, and one of Stephen Locke’s photos, also published in our collaboration, Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image.
Celebrate this sky, this land beyond measured
time that tilts the seasonal light. Dream the return
of the stars, the searing rise of summer or fast spread
of thunderheads, the secret-holding cedars and
witness rocks that migrate across the prairies.
We breathe the air of those who spoke languages
forgotten as the glaciers. We walk the fields
that once fed the fish of inland oceans.
We turn our heads away from where the raccoon
hid his family from the storm hundreds
of generations beforehand. This rain was once
a man’s last wish, this heat what warmed a weathered
rock enough for a woman to rest on with her baby,
these fossils, love songs of memory and longing
after the beloveds die. This horizon the homeland
of butterfly milkweed oranging in ancient sun.
This creek’s trail rerouted by deer and wild turkey.
This wooded curve the one favored by bluebirds
following last summer south. All we see,
the ghost and angel of billions of trails
through grasslands, the remnant of hard rains
where the grandmothers and grandfathers sang
of weather and loss, wars and births.
The bones of this land and the feathers of this sky
know us better than we know ourselves.