Prairie at Night

John Palen

We know what we’ve done to it,
birds hunted to extirpation,
fence-to-fence monoculture,

but still find it beautiful: Headlights
sweeping the ditch banks,
low, dark moraines out to the horizon,

featureless except for the ordering
of farm lights miles apart
like the running lights of boats,

and in the middle distance
the domestic glow of lamps
behind living room curtains,

a halogen light on a tall pole
encircling the empty place
between house and barn.

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