November 29, 2010

Bob Johnston

WAITING

It didn’t rain all summer, and the wind
Blew yellow dust from Colorado, mixed
With black dirt of our own. Tumbleweeds
And dust had buried all the fences. The taste
Of blackness was always in my throat, and grit
Was in my bed. Toward the end of the day
We sat and watched the devils march across
A dirty sunset. There wasn’t much to do—
The crops were burned and all the cows had died.
My father said that next week it would rain
Because the Lord would send it. In the north
Dry lightning flashed against a black curtain.

from Rattle #23, Spring 2005

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Bob Johnston: “Eighty-plus years of memories have provided the fuel for many poems. ‘Waiting’ came from a South Dakota farm in 1931, the last year of the Dust Bowl. While remembering, I try to keep one eye on the future—to give me a reason for continuing to write.”