September Sunset in the Flint Hills

At El Dorado, I turn east and north onto the Kansas Turnpike.
The fading light shows dimly through a dome of gray
that stretches as far in every direction as I can see.
Not far beyond the lake, I make my way into the Flint Hills.

Miles of rolling fields stretch out across the prairie,
marked by clumps of cottonwood and hedge,
scrub oak along the lines of ditches
and on the banks of rock-bedded creeks.

A half-hour below Emporia, the leading edge
of this slate-bellied cold front leaves a long thin line
along the horizon west and south;
a space of clear sky the runs beyond the dome.

As the sun slips toward its evening home,
a sudden glow spreads across the higher runs of sod and stone;
an orange cast moves across the grass and banks
and a sudden flash of brilliant red blazes from the mirror.

On the upper slope, long stems of native grass bend and sway,
ridges in the wind rippling their way toward Oklahoma.
Shadows shift and play, glints of light shimmer from the seed heads,
full and silver in this intermingling of autumn into summer.

I am eager for home and weary of the road
with three more hours to go.

Headed up the five mile slope to the last long line,
I slow near the crest, seeking the best place.
I park the truck, climb my way up through the loose grit and stone,
gripping whatever my hand can find that helps.

Forty feet above the road, I stand on the cusp,
watching a fiery sun paint brief strokes across the curling edges,
feeling the north breeze on my face and in my hair,
staring at miles of stone and earth, wind and grass.

I am eager for home and weary of the road,
but I cannot let this beauty pass—
not without this reverence,
this bowing of my head

in the presence of Him who has made it.

Of what good is beauty if we let all of duty
dull our eyes to the glory of the skies,
the glory of passing wonders?

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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