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Among the Unawake poems from the Great Plains by Rodney Nelson

W h a t   C h a n c e

Fergus Falls in memory an ache toward the human
toward Madeline playing cello in black and Judith
who would not wait at eighteen and Elle at thirty-four
I had hurt and taken to talk-therapy next to a
dry park in afternoon heat
the human meant women then
and in the town was beauty of a round lake and the elms
and the Otter Tail but an old man my dad died on its
edge in summer too who had let me use even rename
the hidden patchy woods farm he owned and I ached toward
the history he meant
when I dreamed black oak or black-oak
groves of Minnesota into poem I had Fergus
Falls in memory an ache toward the romantic
not yet come to a view that would wipe the romance of being
humanity out would see it as conflagration and
the planet’s dried-up end
in the meantime which is all I
have however I want to walk in Fergus again and
imagine what a Celt wordman would have made of the name
of it what chance a one more oak-grove dream might have hoping
that the head of the Red Branch kings be on his feet in May


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