Fall-Winter 2009

Prose

Poetry

Artwork

Prairie clover photo (left) by
Jack Shouba.

"After the Storm" painting by
Marilynn Brandenburger.

Witch hazel photo by
Jason Sturner.

Platte River Song

    -- for Thelma Drayton

Fredrick Zydek

This river's dreams go more slowly than the wind,
nest leafy secrets along the shore, slip slight
and silvery to the marshes that yawn their way
downstream. She is thin-skinned, swaddled
in green pastures. Water things of silk and raw
wonder cluster about like minnows darting among
the restless promises she spins from her dreams.

We wade out to the sandbars and shallows,
go no more than knee-deep from shore to shore.
It's a skinny victory because everyone knows
that summer is but half the matter. In winter she's
dizzy and full-bellied. Chunks of ice, flat as the prairie
and round as the moon, rumble down her spine
like thunder tumbling down from the Dakota snows

and becoming a fit for getting even. In winter
she's a beast with teeth that can devour bridges,
but in spring this river's a thing gone mad with glee.
She becomes a landlubber going among the cornfields;
she permits small fish to swim among the wheat,
jasper hearts of sorghum and soybean, fields where
occasional wild swans drift like well-kept secrets.