Iowa Writes

WALTER RICHARD KNUPFER
In the Bed of Iowa


where you and your brother were born
in the rolling landscape of corn, beans, rivers
and fogs of fireflies where you can't tell
the fireflies from the stars, born in an ancient

seabed that became topsoil layered and layered
until shoots of grassland filled with meadows
of phlox, Indian paint-brush, daisies, blue asters
and lavender sunsets and purple thunderstorms.

We used to race under the rainbows through clapping
lightning storms, breaking through the waves of color
of showers again, dousing ourselves when the line moved
through pouring streams, the soil draining down-river

where you and your brother were born
in the rolling landscape of corn, beans, rivers
and fogs of fireflies where you can't tell
the fireflies from the stars, born in an ancient

seabed that became topsoil layered and layered
until shoots of grassland filled with meadows
of phlox, Indian paint-brush, daisies, blue asters
and lavender sunsets and purple thunderstorms.

We used to race under the rainbows through clapping
lightning storms, breaking through the waves of color
of showers again, dousing ourselves when the line moved
through pouring streams, the soil draining down-river

to the muddy blues' oily muck. A conch, a coral reef,
a whorl, an aching noise when the earth burst into the sea
and all swirled into all, a calamitous, cacophonous blast,
a chorus of noisy crickets, a cochlear shell that amplifies

nothing but the whistling wind and tinnitus, a petrous
hardness, an undulating crust of shaken blankets of tin
soldiers who die and die in crusted paint in pink flesh.
From there you were reborn, from word from word,

in a cloudy world under the Iowa sun, fistula, fistula,
burst into another word, another word, another word.
I love you, my son, who has taken me from the gentle
speech through the left hemisphere in another life of my own,

the map of the heavens through the fourth sign and beyond
through unbalanced semi-circular canals, losing our balance,
from watershed to watershed. We can wait for the shoe to drop,
like the flat Missouri fault buckling, bubbling and blistering

in fissures and cracks, tremors and temblors in rolling land
pounding the flat table, shaking the tablecloth with crystal vases
and ground glass and sand, correcting the plate of earth
of petrous rock that calcifies into a limestone escarpment,

but everything pales like your ossified petrous inner ear
glued by flaps of skin that connects you with the world,
and the light of your eyes on campfire, transfixed
in flickering embers, stupefied by the mystery of the stars.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


WALTER RICHARD KNUPFER

Walter Richard Knupfer received his B.A., M.F.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Iowa. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, The Ohio Review, Turnstile, The Great Lakes Review, and elsewhere.

This page was first displayed
on April 13, 2006

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