On the first Sunday in June,
the sort of mild but sunny day
that sometimes comes soon after May,
I rode toward the river
on Geuda Springs Road just north of Ark City.
The smell of ripening wheat
sifted through a slight eastern breeze
as I turned toward Udall and pedaled up the long slope.
Old free-form posts splotched with lichen
and stapled with heavy-rusted strands of wire
strung along the bank,
wavy forms that shouldered the edge of the field,
defining the boundary between
the fine-drilled lines of hope that men intended
and what happens to grow beside the road.
Off to the west,
along the suede-vested bottoms of the Arkansas River,
long blades of shoulder-high corn shimmered in the sun,
sweeping seams of silver and green glimmering soft reflections.
An abrupt rise of hardwoods ran in straight lines
along the fences, intersecting corners
and twisting along the ditches and streams
that drain into the sand-strained channel.
Miles beyond that,
an hour’s ride from here,
the great spokes of turbines mined the wind
in their slow spin,
sending a collective surge through black wires
spired between tall spines of creosoted pine,
rising above asphalt and grass,
above rank weeds and the seeds of grain,
above everything but the tallest cottonwoods
gentling rustling the shadows of leaves
across the face of quiet waters
passing beneath an old bridge
where swarms of swallows have lived
for as long as anyone can remember.
I could ride for days
in a thousand different places
and see nothing finer than this.