Once nomadic Asians crossed the snow-crusted arctic
land bridge, they discovered a virgin continent previously
unknown to human habitation. Over thousands of years,
stone age tribes of the North American plains survived
by following the animals they hunted in cyclic migration.
Stretching far to the south of the City of Big Shoulders,
a pair of rails winds over undulating glacial moraine
left in place ten thousand years after retreat of the last
northern ice age. Hoary mammoths, saber-tooth cats, herds
of wild buffalo have long ago disappeared from this land.
Chocolate colored soil, rich with loam one hundred feet
deep, is the legacy of the last ice age. Untilled in human
history until little over a hundred years ago, its swamps
now drained (but precious moisture maintained with
underground tiling), our flat Illinois prairie has become
an inexhaustible and versatile bread basket for the nation.
Millions of acres of grassland have given way to the reach
of the tractor. A sea of ten foot high waving grass has been
breached and tamed. Billion bushel corn and soy crops now
flourish where ground hogs and foxes once scurried. Loping
highways carry citizens of far-flung towns across this prairie.
But the sun still rises gold in the East and sets red in the West,
as it has ever since man’s first encounter with the great plains
first published in Illinois State Poetry Society
also published in FLOOR OF THE SKY Chapbook
also published in Poetry Atlas
also published in Highland Park Poetry Chapbook
©2005 Bonnie Manion