Home > Poetry > Coaltrains Crossing the Wyoming Prairie
Published: Wed Oct 15 1980
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Coaltrains Crossing the Wyoming Prairie

The nuns in single file tiptoe lest they waken us,
_          _through piazzas,
through prairie,
immune to history.

The Lorettine, the Brigittine, the Carmelite
unstitch through the streets
their one street…

Theirs is the game, the love, where everyone holds hands
because they can’t let go; they pray and wait;
_          _and I believe
they represent

the opposite of bravery, which is not cowardice
_          _but patience.
They pray and wait,
a surfaced stream over a dry terrain,

the inseam of a stitch, where what you see is just
_          _delay. They wait,
and our impatience is
the landscape they move through,

cold, black, apparition-like over the endless flat,

dragging what burns from the heart of the green hills.

See what's inside AGNI 13

Jorie Graham won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1996 for her collection _The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems from 1974–_1994. She is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. (updated 6/2010)

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