I cannot reprint the copyrighted article without permission, but here is the link. They omitted wonderful illustrations by Allan Chow, a KC Art Inst. grad. He will feature the oils at a master artist show in a Manhattan, Ks. in May, and I don't want to miss them. My thanks to Tim Janicke for his care and all the time he spent with the text and photo. Here is the link:
And here is one of the poems:
At Flint Hills National Grasslands
forty miles, and I tell my son
about our several-great grandparents
who lived just west of this summit.
Their graves lie in a far distant fold,
a valley where their voices mix
into a blur of lost wind gusts
like those rushing into our ears.
I tell him about a photograph
of our Indian grandfather—
his jet hair and deep black eyes
looking at us from a quiet face.
It must have been springtime
because of the flat dry bluestem
crushed around him in ripples
half a lifetime before his marriage.
I tell my son about Grandmother
mostly Irish and German and
lots of questions about her past
but she was born in
and now lies in the quilt layers
of hills around us, next to him
and next to twin baby girls.
My mother’s ashes are buried here.
Under the stalled sun, afternoon
also seems to last forever—
the solar fire just past zenith,
the clouds heaped to the heavens
above flint-smooth edges of horizon.
Below, monarchs flicker a trail
as they migrate through the Hills
far, as far as any of us can see.
I dedicated this to my son Daniel Low because we traveled to the National Grasslands Park at the Z Bar Ranch in Chase County (see Wm. Least Heat Moon's book Praryerth for more about Chase County, Ks.), and as we looked over the Flint Hills, I realized how much family history he had not heard. Like my parents before me, I assumed he magically knew what I knew without telling the stories! But after law school, in 2002, he spent a year in Kansas clerking for Judge Deanell Taha. At that time we had the opportunity to spend time together and travel to the Flint Hills, where I grew up.
Like most younger generation folks, he's on a projectory into the future, so I tried to recapitulate some history and emphasize how this land is made sacred by the histories of our forbears--their narratives and seemingly endless days spent living in this place--and also by their lingering spirits, even if these are just subtle traces. And I hope there's more in the poem, as well.
At my age, I have over 50 years of memories wadded into the curlicues of my brain matter. Sometimes I feel like a walking museum. I remember when I would visit my grandmother when she was in her 90s, and how I marveled at how far back her memory went. From her stories, I have first-hand accounts of events into the 1890s, the time of the Wounded Knee deaths.