Monday, March 25, 2013

365 Poems: A Bleak Landscape

Day 84

Punxsutawney Phil, happier than a Greenlander
Driving home from Columbus Sunday, I thought the miles between that city and Fort Wayne looked as bad as they could look. Winter's over by the stars, but no one's told the wind nor the snow that threatened from the scudding clouds. The fields, flat and fallow, scrubby and dead. The trees still skeletons against the grey sky. Everything spare and bare, exposed and raw. Litter by the roadside, last year's leaves, highlighted against the sallow grass. Now's not the time to try to sell the Midwest to anyone -- don't bring your best prospect here now, don't try to sell your college campus to the students. The most interesting thing we passed was the huge wind farm  that stretches for miles from the state line -- there's something beautiful about them, their height, their slow movement, the unexpected grace.
I googled 'bleak landscape' and you know what came up? Greenland. We think the Midwest is a land of extremes -- and it is, this same ride in June will look like Ireland in its green-ness, the air will feel like Florida in its heat and humidity in July, all the imperfections hidden in the lushness that summer brings -- but we're amateurs compared to the Greenlanders. Too much light, too much dark, too cold, too everything. And they pay for it. The article that came up first is titled 'Suicide Is Painful: Greenland’s Bleak Landscape, Poverty, Alcoholism, Lengthy Seasons, Culture Clash Conspire To Trigger High Rates Of Self-Killing.' Indiana and Ohio have all those things, but I don't think our suicide rates, even in late March, are extreme (middle of the pack nationally, it turns out).
We're anxious, impatient, hungry for spring. It's pretty telling is that Ohio is suing the poor possum, Punxsutawney Phil. He's getting taken to task for a bad early-spring prediction. I hope that's not making the poor Pennsylvania marsupial feel ... you know. We need him around to give us hope ... next year.

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