Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE STATE OF WYOMING, by KAREN SWENSON



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THE STATE OF WYOMING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Perhaps a childhood magic-writing tablet
Last Line: To the shadow of an antelope stare.
Subject(s): History; Imagination; Wyoming; Historians; Fancy


Perhaps a childhood magic-writing tablet,
which when you raise the sheet becomes blank again
with a sound like pulled adhesive,
after 200 years still largely a tabula rasa,
in winter it is a watercolor wash,
a pale prehistory of color
with only the most tender smudges of lavender and mauve
where land rises enough for shadow.

A state of space inhabited by wind, whose dusty phalanx
harries broods of tumbleweed,
it is only slightly scrawled with evidence -
Shoshoni Crowheart Massacre Hill
stray facts of pioneers and Teapot Dome
less real than the pronghorn that race
the highway carrying in their heads the dark
eyes of dead Indians.

The clean sweep of land we populate
on a supermarket rack
with male, paperback hips hunched by guns
or on a movie screen's blank
with saucers and aliens
who come,
out of a space beyond stars,
to rescue us
like a tribe of unknown ancestors,
their eyes enlarged by makeup men
to the shadow of an antelope stare.





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