The Great Dust Bowl - Megan Kruse

The day that I returned
to the speck of land that held my poor childhood in its green hands,
I found that the earth had sucked up the old bloody-painted barn
through a straw.
Those sometimes-smiling windows were gone;
the floorboards that groaned loudest when silence was needed
the door that didn’t quite close,
and Mother, too,
with her apron and her pale rosy fingers—
all gone.

I turned to the old sycamore, standing so still.
What do you know of disappearances? I said
with my feet rooted and rooting deeper as we spoke.
What do you know of the bloody barn where Father knifed cow-throats?
What do you know of Mother and her apron?

But that old bastard didn’t say a word.
Always, his only fruit, the fruit of bitterness.
I sunk to my already scuffed knees,
ran my fingers over hard, unforgiving earth,
redder now, I think, than before.
If I’d had a shovel,
I’d have dug until I found it there beneath the world—
the windows, the floorboards, and that door still open,
until I pulled Mother by pale fingers
up and out,
with red dirt still in her hair and spitting from her mouth,
and I’d forgive that sycamore for not saving them,
for standing passive like he always had,
even when I was bruised and still getting bruised.

But I had no shovel;
I never did.
I could not unbury the past.

A freshman at UW-Madison, Megan Kruse currently plans to major in wildlife ecology. She enjoys long road trips, travelling the world, nature photography, and spending time reading and writing poetry.