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About this poet

Janice N. Harrington’s most recent book of poetry is Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin (BOA Editions, 2016). She teaches creative writing at the University of Illinois and lives in Champaign, Illinois.

Shaking the Grass

Evening, and all my ghosts come back to me
like red banty hens to catalpa limbs
and chicken-wired hutches, clucking, clucking,
and falling, at last, into their head-under-wing sleep.

I think about the field of grass I lay in once,
between Omaha and Lincoln.  It was summer, I think.
The air smelled green, and wands of windy green, a-sway,
a-sway, swayed over me.  I lay on green sod
like a prairie snake letting the sun warm me.

What does a girl think about alone
in a field of grass, beneath a sky as bright
as an Easter dress, beneath a green wind?

Maybe I have not shaken the grass.
All is vanity.

Maybe I never rose from that green field.
All is vanity.

Maybe I did no more than swallow deep, deep breaths
and spill them out into story:  all is vanity.

Maybe I listened to the wind sighing and shivered,
spinning, awhirl amidst the bluestem
and green lashes:  O my beloved!  O my beloved!

I lay in a field of grass once, and then went on.
Even the hollow my body made is gone.

From Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone by Janice N Harrington. Copyright © 2007 by Janice N. Harrington. Used by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

From Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone by Janice N Harrington. Copyright © 2007 by Janice N. Harrington. Used by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Janice N. Harrington

Janice N. Harrington’s most recent book of poetry is Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin (BOA Editions, 2016). She teaches creative writing at the University of Illinois and lives in Champaign, Illinois.

by this poet

poem
The wind then, through seams of bluestem,
or switchgrass swayed by a coyote’s passing.

Where the fabric gapes, Barthes said,
lies the sensual. A prairie cut

by winding seeps, or winds or shearing wings.
Mare’s tails, mackerels, cirrus,

distance dispersed as light. Under a buzzard’s bank
and spiral the prairie
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