Eleven thousand years ago the last

glacier scraped through this field.


Transmuted by the new sun, struck

numb with fear. When Joseph Smith


fell laughing to his knees before a pillar

of fire, his tongue swelling, his father


descended and spoke in a voice as cold

as the risen Sangamon Creek, saying


go home. Past noon, this basin of dirt

riddled with thick bloodless cracks.


A crop duster buzzes low overhead

to cough its toxic rain like a blessing


toward the dark corduroy of soybeans

to the west. Paint huffers straighten


on knee pads cut from vulcanized tires

and their pink-stained hands slow for


half a beat. Through the propped back

door of the school bus, popular music


washes over them, saying nothing

they haven’t heard somewhere before.


Originally published in Prairie Schooner