Night has carried her breath from her
Like gypsy moths dancing in snow,
That floated down the lattice while she dreamt
Of pink-tinged canna lilies opening at sunrise,

And out in the field a hollow bell rang,
Its song drifting over the red wheat.
By the moon’s dim lantern, her mother’s
Storm-filled throat spilled harmony.

The truant spirit with sly white fingers
Poured like milk through stray grains of rye,
Milk in the highway that stretched to night
Where friendless streetlamps burn. It opened

Over empty rooms of childhood,
The tire swing twisting from the willow.
And the dreams of her father, who rises each day
Bearing witness to mile-long stretches of grasslands

And the gray dearth of flowers, whisper
With the shivering wheat of her departure,
How drought will blister summer’s harvest
And wildfires weave the ashes into sky.

Carl Swart grew up on the Great Plains in the shadow of drilling rigs, machine shops, and feed mills. He earned his BA in English at the University of Oklahoma. He currently is an MFA candidate at the University of Oregon, where he also works as a professor of creative writing and English.