Heartland

I close my eyes, I see the distance dance,
I hear the detonation of mischance
that fused the sand to glass and blew the light
to blazes. The rivers of my heartland wait.
I call them Mississippi and Missouri,
great arteries of the inch and wild heart cherry,
and I sleep in winter with beasts that want my night.
I am their calm and warmth; my stove in the barn
grazes the snow for them; and rivers stay born.
Because I have lived with the eagle of the prairie,
I am this continent as long as its rivers last
and no reaction burns them to old rope.
An image has been taken from an anxious past
that shrinks them; and what may be, is heartless hope.

* Published in The Australian 2002.