Thanks, Nebraska

posted Dec 2, 2008

For a highway that never veers
from sunrise to sunset.
For not hoarding that sky’s articulation,
though it loves you so, and wants

to stay. For preserving the memory
of the switchboard operator, which most children
can only research now on Google.
And even though no Nebraskan knew

how to get to the Telephone Museum,
I’m glad I asked—I frequently don’t,
and each stranger seemed earnestly
regretful to have no direction for me.

We had that in common for moments
that lingered so tenderly I would nearly forget
I was expected home to make dinner that night.
Dear Nebraska. Thanks, Nebraska.

Before you I felt bereft
of a private greenness. I could fathom
no place to store the small coins that one
no longer needs to make calls.

Now, a vast cornfield feeds
my imagination. And a jingly
tune has smothered the wee
abattoir in my heart.

Paula Cisewski is the author of Ghost Fargo, Upon Arrival, How Birds Work, and Two Museums, and the co-author of Or Else What Asked The Flame. Ghost Fargo was selected by Franz Wright for the 2008 Nightboat Poetry Prize.

We’ve published four more poems by Cisewski: “Having to do With the Manner in Which we Transport Night,” “from The Poor Choruses,” “Ode to Continual Loss,” and “The Museum of Natural Science.”