What Ohio Needs: A Poem by Kerry Trautman

By Kerry Trautman


What Ohio Needs

Ohio needs its northern shallow shores—
waves glinting at gulls and sandy toddlers.
Its inland lakes stocked with walleye,
pedalboats and water skis.
Waters busy and rushed from fishy April
through ‘til winds of autumn,
stoically shoved grey with ice in February.

Ohio needs its southern hillsides—
rocky prelude to the Appalachians,
heaving cloaks of golden locust trees
and flaming maples, lush firs
stubbornly green against October.

Ohio needs its windswept fields-
churned and sowed dirt ruts,
skeletal irrigation apparatus towering overhead,
spewing spray on sun-cracked clay.
Its acres bursting with watched and waited-for
corn, soybeans, and winter wheat
with its gleaming emerald carpets.

Ohio needs its men—
nailbeds stained of earth, of motor oil,
of oil paints or newsprint.
Its men who sell freezers, Jeeps, antique settees.
Who x-ray molars, draw blood into vials,
or stand hours on factory lines, assembling
carburetors or boxes of bright lollipops.
Who shout at ball players and referees,
who drive too swiftly over winding highways,
windows down, mumbling along to
Garth Brooks, REM, or Zepplin.
Who fix storm-wrenched fences
with what’s shelved in their garages,
who kill snakes with shovels, nap with dogs.
Who stack charcoal on the backyard grill,
reaching to pluck whichever tomato’s the reddest.

Ohio needs its women—
shoveling snow, casting for catfish off piers,
bathing fresh peach off their babies in sinks.
Its women who paint their fingernails, then
plunge them into yeasty dough or garden soil.
Who shop for drapes to blacken themselves in
against winter frost and summer lightning.
Who tune weather radios, watch red-blotch
radars, shuttle young ones to the cellar.
Who teach, and doctor each other’s children,
who hover over swivel chairs in cubicles in
semi-tall office towers studding grid streets.
Who reach to library stacks for Danielle Steel
or Davids Mamet or Sedaris.

Ohio needs its neighbors—
sharing overabundant zucchini, wax beans.
driving carpool to brick schools,
Neighbors who coach baseball on Saturdays that
start with mittens and end with shorts.
Who borrow lawn mowers or eggs,
who help move a new sofa inside,
or floodsoaked carpeting out.
Who dole candy to costumed children,
haggle over yard-sale candlesticks and sweaters.
Who welcome newborns with balloons,
or offer pumpkin bread or plates of cheese
for the deaths of elderly mothers.

Ohio needs its children—
climbing crabapple boughs, selling red Kool-Aid,
reading the funnies at the kitchen table.
Children who sort Easter jellybeans by colors,
chucking the black ones into the thawing creek.
Who sing on their swings and bicycles,
work puzzles with uncles,
mimic their fathers’ golf swing or their mothers’
sowing of marigold seeds.
Who pore over college catalogues,
choosing one near enough to drive home.
Who learn to smoke from older brothers,
who quit for college girlfriends.
Who build and destroy sandcastles,
dangle crayfish at shrieking sisters,
hurl themselves into flocks of gulls until
they alight, wailing, in a grey-white flurry,
dropping a feather or two or three.

Ohio born and raised, Kerry is among the founders of http://www.toledopoet.com/ and the Toledo Poetry Museum page on Facebook. She participates in poetry readings and events such as Artomatic 419, 100-Thousand Poets for Change, Back to Jack, and the Columbus Arts Festival. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in various journals, including Midwestern Gothic, Alimentum, The American Journal of Nursing, The Toledo Review, The Fourth River, and Third Wednesday; as well as in anthologies such as Mourning Sickness (Omniarts, 2008), Roll (Telling Our Stories Press, 2012), and Journey to Crone (Chuffed Buff Books, 2013). Her poetry chapbooks are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press, 2012) and To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press, 2015). Her chapbook Artifacts is forthcoming from NightBallet Press in 2017.

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