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This poem was submitted for the "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" project and is reproduced here with permission from the author. All rights reserved. Poetry for the Mind's Joy is Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's project that includes a community college poetry contest administered by the Community College Humanities Association and a lively videoconference.

I felt you riding inside me
before anyone else knew:
strapped to my uterus, taking the bumps,
leaning into the curves--a hard, fast driver.

When you arrived,
you screamed for three months,
true to your name;
but then, your bones were still hollow,
still longing for flight.

What could I do but buckle you in?
For the next six years you rode in the rear,
gazing behind us
at the creatures that chased us,
that leapt up, up, up
from your imagination,
then sank back down,
only to leap up again,
in your photographs
years later.

If I had ventured back there,
I don’t know what I would have found.
That was your country, not mine.
Yet I suspect coded imprints and graffiti,
clues to what you you’d later pursue.

Eventually, you moved up front,
where the changing landscape
splashed like makeup
across your face.
I propped my pedal-foot
on your favorite novel, White Noise.
Sacred Resting Ground.
(While the book that sat beside you,
our Atlas, for some reason,
no longer held
any Midwest section inside.)

You began climbing out
your bedroom window;
I’d find tracks in the snow.
Then you were jailed
for political protest--
your film destroyed.

And you were gone,
photographing colossal shipyards and cities,
far from small, beady-eyed towns.

I‘ve dreamt of my lineage
springing from you
...the female artists
and authors.
In their interviews
I’m never discussed,
and by the time they make their debut
I’ll be gone. 

And yet, some distant day,
when the seagulls call,
if you wet a finger and press it  into the wind,
I hope you’ll at least sense me
just as once, I sensed you.

Kirkwood Community College, Iowa City, IA
Faculty Contact: David Hulm