2 March 2004 | Vol. 4, No. 1

Spring Ranch, Nebraska


We find his hair in dried paint, then plant cattails to hide the corn. Inhaling and spitting out gnats she says that by the end he couldn't swallow, choked on spit. And shows me the automatic writings of the woman who communicates with grandfather two farms down. He says planet Earth. Advises grandmother on the weather, on the harvest. Then she melts silver with a battery into boiled water. Bottles it, and gives it to me for mouthwash.


Pink bee-bush, rose mallow and wild grapes. Stinking water in the tornado shelter and the sod house full of buffalo robes. Beyond the firebreak, ice still covers the horsepond. Three children and the leftover duck share a quilt while she stitches true-lovers knots on the saddle.


Grandfather puts his cigarette in the horse's mouth for a joke, says he once broke sod with oxen. Says it isn't the air that is blue, that the grass was a shade he can't describe. We know smartweed, bluestem, and buffalo grass. We know where the man threshed his son, where red grass was last plowed under, and where red dust lay the deepest.


One amber glass in winter for color. She stuffs the bed with dried Russian thistle and paper, imagines the snow as Chinese white. Like prairie dogs they've gone underground for winter. The plaster laid on the earthen walls tastes sweet to the children. They pull horsehair from the mixture of clay, blood and lime when she goes outside for the milk that is cooling on the snow.

About the author:

Sarah Vap has taught creative writing, poetry workshops and composition classes at ASU, Phoenix College, and the Writer's Voice. She has won many awards for her publications, including the Katherine C. Turner Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2003. She was also the Invited Poet at the 2003 Lithuania Spring Poetry Festival. Sarah has been a Poetry Editor with 42opus since Vol. 4, No. 3.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Sarah Vap at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 4, No. 1, where "Spring Ranch, Nebraska" ran on March 2, 2004. List other work with these same labels: poetry, prose poem.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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