Raphael Kosek/ The Way West

My daughter is driving
            across the continent, eating cheddar
in Wisconsin, waking to a cougar’s yellow
          rasp,  sleeping tentless 
in a corn field where a mysterious
insect leaves a sore story of welts 
              over her face, her neck –
she is off my radar, and it feels like 
             part of me is floating off the map,
past the flannel of sleep, the safety 
of novels—I hear the wind over her phone,
             constant.  The wind, her voice
informs me, never stops blowing in South Dakota
              where the Black Hills are not really black,
but green and grey like Cezanne’s mountains.
Her hair glistens with a mid-American 
               sweat I have never felt, her car 
runs into the different hours
              of a different night.  We have 
lost the clock between us, the familiar
gone strange.  Prairie so flat, she says,
              you can see the sun for a long time.
I feel something flatten out between us—
           and ease into a rhythm where the plains
of her life, of mine, drift
   buoyant, open, rising without words,
              hours, or habits—
                              New country.


Raphael Kosek’s poems and nonfiction have appeared in Poetry East, Catamaran, and many other journals.  Her chapbook, Rough Grace, won the 2014 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Prize. She won the 2019 Bacopa Literary Review’s poetry contest and Eastern Iowa Review’s 2016 nonfiction prize.  American Mythologywas recently released from Brick Road Poetry Press. She teaches English at Marist College where her students keep her real. She is the 2019-2020 Dutchess County Poet Laureate.

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