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Geoff Oelsner » Kansas Browns

(For Robert Sudlow)

I know a quiet artist who likes to paint farmers’ fields
late afternoons in autumn, then sit with evening
colors and smoke a nicked old pipe.

Kansas smells of goldenrod, walnuts, baled hay, rain,
ploughed ground, soybeans, clay banks, limestone
creek beds, “and something of the color brown,”
he says. “Smells best in mid-fall…”

Then, hedge apples are last to drop.
They cluster pale green near the fence posts,
filled with thick milk beneath their pulp.
Mild cows stand stalled at gates,
by troughs and ponds, heaving
steady breaths.

The artist holds a palette swirled with Kansas browns
of shady forest deer-paths, furrows, umber gaps.
At dusk he puts his brush and palette down.
We sit in evening fields.