An Ekphrasis on Stan Herd's Kansas (Kaw) River Levee Below Bowersock Dam, Lawrence, KS (1988).
by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish

for Denise Low-Weso

In a tiny cafe near the verdant banks of the mighty Kaw River,
a joyful ebony family, five powerful girls whose glistening dark
eyes see far beyond my own senescent, foreshortened gaze.

We hike up the levee, my chosen older sister and me, envisioning
Lenape women, their cornfields planted in the floodplain, recalling
those who remain. We listen for their prayers singing among reeds.

A copse of cottonwoods anticipates bald eagles who will return
to their ample branches come January. Turkey buzzards tilt and whirl
far above our heads—their presence and our gray hair, portents.

An earthwork construction of tinted stones—white flowers, golden
stems—reaches down to water; moccasin designs or grandma’s quilt,
rip-rap monument to women’s art, to women’s footsteps, ours echoing.

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