? SLAB | Sound & Literary Art Book

Issue 10

Contest Winners

Clara Bush

The Real Prairie (Sheyenne National Grassland)


It’s easy to be selfish here,
the planet all grassland
and sky and no other place
but the corners of your eyes
where the light starts to dim,
too vast to absorb until
you squeeze it into your chest
in small doses—take the clouds
into your vena cava, black-eyed
susans to the right atrium,
let the tricuspid swing
shut with the wind, open
for the garter snake, a black
and yellow hose curled
in the ventricle, and the pulmonary
valve open like a hognose mouth,
swallowing prey, shut it to
the flow of flash flooding
wetlands filling the pulmonary
artery, the lungs, with fluid,
let it back again, through
the veins, with the sticky pollen
of invasives, into the left atrium,
fluttering like a kingbird’s wings
leaving earth for weightlessness,
let the meadowlark sing echoes
into the left bottom chamber,
the mitral beat flapping in time,
the meaty ventricle pumping
out vibrato, the lub-dub
like the sound of a lek
of sharp-tailed grouse,
let it move into you like bluegrass
into prairie, until your whole
blood is filled up, thick
with the very piece of your world
you never want to share, building
the pressure to keep you alive.