Midwest Nostalgia and the End of a Notebook Era

I came to the end of a writing era last night when I filled up my beloved notebook of the past 7 months. It was your standard Staples composition deal with leaves which were suspiciously similar to marijuana shape…or hemp if you prefer that plant reference. In my quest to own fewer things, I decided I should throw it out but before it met it’s demise in the yellow trash can of our flat, I ripped out all the important bits and dumped them in a word document for safe keeping. The document’s title can explain the notebook’s hodge podge of contents: “Selections from the Journal with Suspiciously Shaped Leaves Composed During the Year of Obsessing Over Dirtbags and Working in Wisconsin Gardens.” 

Mourning the Notebook...I may or may not have dug it out of the trash to take this picture
Mourning the Notebook…I may or may not have dug it out of the trash to take this picture

After baking bread with my flatmates and reading back through my poems, to do lists and random rants, I felt super nostalgia for the Midwest seeing as most of what I wrote was during my time working in Beloit, WI over the summer. The bread part relates because Midwesterners make the best bread. So here are two poems in honor of Wisco living.

Because this is Ireland we commemorated the making of beer bread with penny whistling
Because this is Ireland we commemorated the making of beer bread with penny whistling

Voice Moves

I think now

in my second year

brimming with humming rail tracks

and fields of grass

gemmed with gold coneflowers,

that I am ready to fall in love, too,

with its people who

are humble and generous

and very starkly practical.

They’ll cut losses and move on

when the seed doesn’t come up. 

My slippery foreign body

splits the horizon

of blue and green in serious collision

and if I yell through this sky

for happiness or frustration or

sheer strangeness of being alive,

my voice slips softly into

the swift of the river

running beside me.

Walking near Lake Mills in July
Walking near Lake Mills in July

Now for the bread poem!

Making Do

Buy organic eggs,

give more to Goodwill,

be bold, she said,

because that was how she moved–

she knew what she wanted

and how to get it.

Knead dough so its surface shines

like the inside of an oyster, she said

so in the dusky night of my kitchen

with bare feet humming on dusty floor

I pummeled my plain-dusted

pillow of a loaf into the counter

Palmed it down and around,

smoother and higher

so it accrued a gravitational

pull toward its doughy center.

But when I took the lump

from the oven, the crust

was creased and brown,

covering a meaty thick

middle laying low in the steel pan:

my whole wheat rock born in-

complete.

I ate a warm slice with butter,

barely swallowed it down

without choking.

I could blame the loss

on my friend although

I knew that in my hands

nothing could go right,

so I downed another slice

with jelly.

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