East Lansing, Michigan
On either side, the highway’s barren stretch
Is dwarfed by the wide wastes of prairie grass,
Its pale dry leaves weaved with dark heads of vetch
And clumps of sumac shimmering like glass.
To look on this, you’d think man had just come,
Bloomed with the Queen Anne’s lace, and will not last;
What little he set down as soon succumb
To stands of pine and maple or wind’s blast.
But, if you see the little streets built up
On ancient marsh, the pool hall and brick church,
Where we boys grew both conscious and corrupt
Dispelling boredom, entering on the search
For just what sort of men we should become,
You’ll see the place is thick with ghosts, is haunted
By faces kissed, pain felt, and words that drum
Through time, as we sought what it was we wanted.
— James Matthew Wilson
This poem appears in the October 16 print issue of NR.