Running the rapids in South Dakota

Towns of South Dakota

Turbulence, Misdemeanor and Tureen
Together account for the lion’s share
Of the winter wheat and tourism here.
Natives escape, at the first humor of Spring,
By way of the Mighty Mo’s unlidded brawn,
Decamping in pirogues of home design
Fashioned in the months of cold past caring.

Shooting hydraulics and cataracts, shelves
Of the suppressed cornucopia
Of limestone—“The Griphollow,” “Camel’s Nose”—
They descend the inexhaustible flows
Until Montana, Minnesota, Iowa
Eventually make sense of themselves
And the voyage of the voyageurs slows.

A pasture with a cow, a Winnebago
In somebody’s yard, a concrete canal and so
Into the heart of town: a Dairy Queen;
Burger King; a Commencement in the English mode
In progress on a university green;
A municipal museum in whose basement resides,
In dusty glass, an eider-headed god.

Always they look at what is to be seen.
“In the matter of inventing itself,” they say,
“the Midwest still has work to do.”
Eau Claire, Butte des Morts, Racine....

John Barr

Share via
Copy link