Often the dying ask for a map


So when Locie, embraced by the great softness

of bed #12, 

her late blizzard of silver hair

fanning out beneath head and shoulders,

asked for one in plaintive, almost desperate tones,

I went out to my car and brought back my old,

frayed road map of Kansas,

and she followed the unfolding

as it in itself were a miracle,

and then held it over her head,

scanning the red interstates and blue country roads

without apparent method or intent

but smiled her morphined grand smile of awe

and wonder within an air of childhood

surprise and overwhelming acceptance.

Because here it was -the way there,

or here,

or out or over in, and there, sweetie,

let me hold it for you, let me hold…

and her trembling index finger knows no

certain path but wanders through the Flint

Hills toward Cottonwood Falls, 

then starts up toward Osawatomie,

and she can smell the new wheat,

its dark green deep as the jade of the 

necklace her husband brought home from the war in the Pacific.

And now as she crosses the Kaw river,

she sees a young woman

standing beneath the moon in a wheat field

in Kansas and wondering,

what will I be?

Who will I marry? Where will we live?

Will I have children?

And if, at the end,

I am lost, how will I find my way home?

B.H. Fairchild, Estados Unidos (1942 – )

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