by Steven Dunn


of David Ahlsted

We have lived in this town,

have disappeared

on this prairie. The church

always was smaller

than the grain elevator,

though we pretended otherwise.

The houses were similar

because few of us wanted

swamp_sunset.jpgbe different

or estranged. And the sky

would never forgive us,

no matter how many times

we guessed upwards

in the dark.

The sky was the prairie's

double, immense,

kaleidoscopic, cold.

The town was where

and how we huddled

against such forces,

and he old abandoned


pickup on the edge

of town was how we knew

we had gone too far,

or had returned.

People? Now we can see them,

invisible in their houses

or in their stores.

Except for one man

lounging on his porch,

they are part of the buildings,


they have determined

every stubborn shape, the size

of each room. The trailer home

with the broken window

is somebody's life.

One thing always is

more important than another,

this empty street, this vanishing

point. The good eye knows

no democracy. Shadows follow

sunlight as they should,

as none of us can prevent.

Everything is conspicuous

and is not.