The sun peaks lower each day, arcing back

          behind the trailer park and into the river


well before eight, leaving everything couched

          in forked shadows. Each night the soiled plates


of switchgrass usher him to sleep. He dreams

          rows of field corn grown inward, brace roots


pushing like fists up from the fractured earth.

          The girl who enters his bedroom never speaks


in whispers, nor are these the palms of angels

          slapping his face and chest: “get up, I missed


the goddamn bus.” His daughter is purposeful.

          Just starting high school and already she knows


things. The road dips toward water. Smoking

          a Winston Slim, she tells him this whole state


was once on the floor of an ocean, after which

          it was owned by the Arapaho, who owned


nothing. She doesn’t blink when the pickup

          backfires like a pistol shot, or when he brakes


into a cloud of insects. One of them sticks,

          ascends the windshield, tethered to a thread


of itself. She edges forward, crushes out

          her cigarette. A locust. A seventeen-year.


She knows this just by looking at its wings.


Originally published in Mid-American Review