HOW I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
Jaime R. Wood
The difference between Kansas and Oklahoma is marked by signs planted by a man who works for the Department of Transportation. The man wears a hardhat every day except Sunday when he bows in the wooden pews and thinks of all the places God might be. Not in his hands, which work too hard for too little and can hold nothing so great as savior or blessings, which he forgets to count.
On Monday morning with God fresh between his temples the man pounds the ground with penance, and I drive the scripted road only knowing I’ve passed from one plain to the next because of this man who plants the signs.
after Russell Edson
Note about the poem: I was born in Oklahoma and lived in Kansas for several years as a child. These are strangely magical places of flatness and wind. While I read the Russell Edson book The Tunnel, which everyone should read when they need a little brilliance in their lives, this poem started growing in my brain. It’s my tribute to the people who give us direction.