Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday's poem: Prairie Dawn by Willa Cather

Prairie Dawn

A crimson fire that vanquishes the stars;
A pungent odor from the dusty sage;
A sudden stirring of the huddled herds;
A breaking of the distant table-lands
Through purple mists ascending, and the flare
Of water ditches silver in the light;
A swift, bright lance hurled low across the world;
A sudden sickness for the hills of home.

- Willa Cather

This May is hot and dry. We did not have enough rain and already the back hillside grass has turned yellow. Tonight I watched a hummingbird flit unsuccessfully through the tall weeds; the warm of the day carrying eucalyptus and jasmine fragrance through the neighborhood. (Nearby, on the patio, Harriet stalked lizards.)

I love how Cather connects the single line images with the heartsickness of home. I know Cather for her beautiful novels, but very recently learned she is a poet too. If you are unfamiliar with her works, I'd recommend her short stories ("Neighbor Rosicky" is my favorite) and her novel "My Antonia". I like to read her books because of the midwest settings. My mother grew up there and on nights like tonight, when the last bit of light filters across the golden hillside, I wonder if images like this would make her long "for the hills of home."

(For a view of what the hillside looked like in early spring, see here.)

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