Until I came to Kansas,
I never knew how many hues, tones and colors
could be caught and cast in the base, blades and stems
of grass passing from growing to dying:
miles of native prairie strands,
weaving and bowing like a fiddler’s hands,
shifts of greens and golds, tans and orange,
yellows and browns, and even shades of beige
swayed by the sun.
Add in the rich runs of hardwoods along the banks and bluffs,
the clumps of sumac crimson among the grays of limestone outcropping,
the yellows and golds of low-growing buckbrush
and the puffs of delicate suede as seed pods nod in the breeze
above drying leaves sheened silver in heaven’s shining
as I take my time in following the run of Kansas One-Seventy-Seven.
The rounded rise of the Flint Hills ripples a slight spine
for southern Kansas where washed cuts carve ditches and gullies
that empty into thin-veined creeks bedded with stone and rock
beneath the rustling cover of cottonwood trees the age of ranches.
Cattle graze in October’s fading warmth as ponds shrink
and the wind combs furrows across the sweeping tallgrass.
A pair of mares grazes a hundred feet from the corner
of a thousand acre field.
I am not in a hurry and I will not keep myself from yielding to this;
I pull over, park the truck and walk over to the fence.
The bay comes first and I offer a clump of soft grass
from a flattened hand.
She sniffs the blades and nimbly lips what she wants of the offering.
The palomino joins us, both seemingly grateful
for the gentle scratching of face and muzzle.
I stand with both arms lifted and they move closer,
heads hanging over the rusted iron rails that anchor the gate
for whatever blessing it may be that I can offer from empty hands.
Whatever else lies before me on this good day will wait a little longer.
This, too, is part of what the Lord has made
and I will rejoice and be glad in it.