Lilacs in West Branch


Soon the lilacs will be blooming
in West Branch, Iowa.
Old John Brown’s hideaway
among earth Quakers (humming

his grave tune, without the guns).
There Harriet’s railroad
tugged through Negus-made
tornado shelters – Grandma’s cousins

too.  I trace an equilibrium
through reams of loveletters
in turquoise blue (scatters
from Scattergood to end of time).

The clay looms closer on those farms.
Isis herself unveils
just past our Hoovervilles –
beckons with Everlasting Arms.

A refuge from the storm, where corn
& flowers grow.  Mild Shaidlock
led a mighty woolly flock
from Ohio to Muscatine, in 1849

(they write); his great-granddaughter Mary
married Jack Ravlin, & thus
they came to Minneapolis...
they rest, remain.  Spring memory.

The silence of unvarnished truth
glances from shepherd eyes.
Proud histories of lies
axed by one pine (standing on earth).


Henry Negus farm (Springdale Township, Iowa, ca. 1900)

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