South Dakota

We were driving west on Interstate 90,
mile 339, where the billboard read

          Dick’s Auto Body
      24 Hour Toe Service

but you didn’t appreciate this spelling feet
like once you might have.

All the sunflowers on our right
had brown faces and yellow hair
and faced south with blank stares
and this is what they saw:

Taking Kai to Wyoming for college,
some part of our life is a museum,
a dying town like Luverne, Minnesota
or Vivian, South Dakota, named for
young women long gone bone-to-dust,

like Faith, the woman, the virtue or
the town that celebrated its centennial
though just 489 souls remain,

like De Smet, where Laura Ingalls Wilder
lived in a little house,
like the Mitchell Corn Place,
a place not worth another visit.

The Sioux and the buffalo are gone
and the prairie’s plowed to corn.
Hay is mown and rolled in tubes
of summer stacked for winter.

Down the long slope to the Missouri River,
I thought of Meriweather Lewis,
his long descent, his death
by his own gun.

The sunflowers on the left
have all turned away.


About Ray Sharp

Father, poet, triathlete, local public health planner
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18 Responses to South Dakota

  1. brian miller says:

    i am intrigued by lewis and clark so i appreciated the reference there toward the end…sad on the loss of the sioux and the bufflao…nice touch with the sunflowers there in the end…

    just wanted to check and make sure all was well…you have been linking the last week but not visiting…and that is not exactly like you…didnt know if something was going on.

  2. Ray Sharp says:

    thanks, brian. some craziness here, just busy. i will start visiting everyone again.

  3. brian miller says:

    ah, you dont have to visit everyone…trust me there are several that just drop a link and run…i figured something was us because i dont see you like that…glad it is just busyness…and hope that passes for you man…

  4. shanyns says:

    This is very good Ray. I enjoyed it. Nicely done. And I love when things are spelled wrong on signs – so much fun! 🙂

  5. claudia says:

    i just love this – love how you make the sunflowers talk and how you weave the story in… really cool write ray

  6. This is excellent… that feeling of desolation and change outside what most people dare to look for… you have inspired me… and I got ideas for my own “road-movie”… and that sign was pretty funny too….

  7. Marya says:

    This took my breath away, Ray! It’s packed with so much.

  8. Debi Swim says:

    Excellent, the things the sunflowers saw…then they turn their heads.

  9. Love the use of sunflowers, how they become a part of the story.

  10. Smart, tight verse. Every word carrying its weight and the images make you want to pause but the poem like a car, keeps moving and you have to replay the visit, which I like. A good poem demands several reads. Thank you.

  11. kvennarad says:

    (Dick really does mean ‘Toe’ service, by the way)

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