Onto the brimming surface the pearblossom drifts down
A hazel nut drops with a plump activating the green slime.
With a last thrust the mallard blasts up
The long lines of the black furrows are blanketed with gulls.
With the whole pull of the moon the Plain rises
The low grasses are awash, the prairie undulates like a polyp.
We have been drifting for three days in an open gondola
Westward on the Chicago St. Paul & Pacific railway
with no landmarks visible. 11 p.m. we are cut loose
in the little town of Sturgis ND, without sound.
No shapes, only a few sheds islanded in a waste of buffalo grass.
The pale dirigible of the watertower swims over tin roofs.
A light on in the lunchroom but it is extinguished
as we walk by down the street, looking for the Western Union office.
The clerk is asleep. My father sends home a message
which takes off into the night, like a blue heron.
Bruised by these immense distances the coyote howls.
The wind has died down. Over all the slopes
the wild grasses have begun to move.
–from Slow Newsreel of Man Riding Train, by Robert Nichols (City Lights Books, 1962)