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