Traveling East on Route U.S. 20 through Iowa
From high ground, corn stretches
To the horizon on both sides
Of the road, a savage tailwind
Sweeps anything not tied down
Straight east.

Small towns are dwarfed
By giant elevators lined
Along shining railroad tracks.
The houses plain and white,
Pickups parked on streets,
No people anywhere in sight.

Passing through an empty town,
I pick up speed, spot something
Rolling in the road ahead –
A white sombrero.

I slow, clock its speed at forty-five,
Swing left and pass, wondering
Of the vaquero missing
Under his own hat,

Perhaps wandering aimless
In an endless maze of corn,
Dismounted, hatless
In a howling wind, flailed
By sharp green leaves

While his hat, pristine, focused
On its own journey, heads east
At a steady clip toward
The wind shelter of the Mississippi
And the prospect of stopping
To find a home on a new head.

By Gene Kimmet

Sign up for Updates