I pulled onto the road’s shoulder with no one around me,
Just open fields and a long line of wire
(Yes, an actual phone line running far back into New Mexico!)
Into the panhandle I drove, passing endless shrubs and dust, an open expanse in
all four directions,
The road arrows straight into forever,
The sun was high, early Spring and warm, only a slight breeze out of the
southwest, a Sonora wind,
A whiff of trouble and dare, Southwest driven.
So open, a lonely and desolate stretch, a wild run to the border, well over a
thousand miles to Canada,
Nothing but a great inland sea of plains, prairie and wind,
The Comanche are all gone, the Caddow and Kiowa too now blown to dust by
history,
Their chants, songs, and stories all gone,
The soft grass and Red River lead to the long escape of a forgotten century.
You dream of swimming on the prairie grass all the way to Alberta,
The endless sea stretches for over a thousand miles,
I haven’t been to the great Steppe in Eastern Ukraine that runs infinite all the
way to Central Asia,
Rode hard by the Mongols, the Tartars and so many others,
How different is our Steppe, how it shaped our history, the great migration, the
stories,
Oh, the tales, the places, the buffalo, railroads, wagons, Indians, Homesteading — it made us,
It formed our soul.
Now it seems hollowed out,
When will the buffalo and wild stallions return?
We ran so hard we hit the coast of the great Pacific and only then braked,
We flew across our inland ocean as if on a wave that carried us right over,
But that sea of endless prairie is our heart,
She defines us as Americans and in this day of peril, beckons us home.
I stand there in my memory now,
The wind at my back, off near Amarillo,
Gazing north into the empty expanse and endless horizons before me,
Soon to be sought out, I yearn to explore the soul of this Great Land to find
what we missed,
To recapture what we have lost,
It is there that I go, to the open prairie road where I dream.
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