“West of Here”

I wake in my mother’s guest bedroom
beneath stormy skies and diminishing rain

that so often characterize mid-summer
in Kansas City. It is the first of July.

Outside, varied configurations of limestone
homes & tree-canopied walks,

welcome me as if I belong here,
if only for the morning, as surely as the walnut

tree in front & the crack in the sidewalk
gaining prominence each year. Tomorrow

I’ll travel west across prairies dotted
with round bales & abandoned farmhouses

past ditches peppered with wildflowers,
botanical names lost to a former self, a vague past.

Friends wait in Topeka, restless with resentment
or divorcing. I go to visit David, dying

of liver failure, a gift from the Goodyear plant
to supplement his early, if brief, retirement.