Sunday, May 23, 2010

American Holiday

I was sorting through my photos last night and I stumbled across the album from this past year’s 4th of July, spent (as per ye olde tradition) in Hesston, Kansas, with Thomas More’s family. Living, as I do, in a Scottish fishing village, and attending an ancient Scottish university, and walking cobbled streets to the sounds of numerous British accents and European languages, I was struck with just how American our Kansan holiday actually is—how very different from Britain, from Europe—and how uniquely middle-America. My heart pines strangely for that American sky. And no irony. I miss Kansas. Most of the poems I have been writing recently are about Kansas. How intriguing to watch this tendency, this longing in myself. Inevitably, my poetry falls into the gap of absence or distance—whether it is the distance of time (memory) or distance in space. The pain of longing—but also the richness?—remains a mystery. I worry often that I fall into unredeemable nostalgia. What is nostalgia? Empty sentimentalism? Something…else? I guess I’ll keep writing my Kansas poems and try to work through it…hmmm.

In the meantime, I wonder what I will write about when I move back to ‘ole KC? Tides, herring gulls, stone fences, ruined churches, steak and kidney pie…Wellington boots?

What follows is a memory, in pictures, from my American, Kansan 4th of July:

Fireworks tent.

The Family.

Newton, Kansas at night

Midnight run on Drubers Donuts.

Midcentury Modern at the King house in Hesston, Kansas.

Aunt Joan gives a family history lesson at the graveyard.

Cousins listen intently to family lore.

Burning fields outside Hesston.

Thomas and Thomas More at King Construction.

I learn how to shoot trap.

Fourth of July!

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