Prairie Grasses

517 total words    

2 minutes of reading

Prairie Grasses

                                                          What if

Pasque flowers dwarfed you as you

Reclined under prairie stars

All heaven-scattered above prairie grasses

Infinite in their reach

Reminding you of your diminished

Insignificant role in a universal scheme of

                              things where

Even the prairie and the grasses are ever


                                             Where now can you see

Great horizon-sized bison herds, when what

Remains are only clustered preserves of an

Antique land that was carved into plough-

sized plots

Sliced into fading fragments

Shorn of natural wealth

Ebbing from grass stems to corn stalks

               growing beneath prairie

Sunshine, starshine, embedded in a prairie


                                                                          Have you

Soared where Gulf warmth meets Arctic chill

Known by hawk and hopper

Yielding showers and sun for forbs, sedges

and grasses—home to prairie


               Have you heard it

Whistle through seedheads

Implode among grass stems

Never stay in one place

Dance across distances limited only by the



                              Have you seen the

Heavenly, hellish receding line

Over prairie grasses

Reaching beyond reach

Infinity experienced



Naturally, sometimes clouded by prairie


              Have you been there

When winter’s melted snows

Inflowed prairie soils

Leaving aged grass

Dry as bison wallows and

Fast as pronghorns

Incendiary tongues

Raced across stale sod

Ending grasses fallow plight leaving prairie


                                             Are you anchored by

Roots reaching deep into darkened soils

                             beneath the

Odor of hot metal from the drought-dry

               dusty top-soil to

Organic layers damp and deliciously fecund

To catch nourishment

Seeping from wild fire ashes next to prairie


                              Would you wade

Ponds and potholes left by

Olden glaciers’ graves midst rolling hills

Trysting places for waterfowl and shorebirds

Hidden in plain sight


Lying summer-still in the


Susurrating prairie

(For Paul Gruchow)

  • John Harrington

    John Harrington lives with his wife and their two dogs at the eastern edge of 23,000 acres of Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area in Minnesota. He writes poetry, nonfiction (sometimes creative), and takes photographs to reflect the beauty and wonder of Minnesota’s everyday special places.

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