Nebraska Center for Writers

Magnolias in the Midlands
by Lorraine Duggin

Magnolias don't belong here.
Listen to your name: Magnolia
Lyrical, exotic, like other
voluptuous wonderful explosions we never see —
bougainvillia, eucalyptus, jacaranda
honeysuckling toward climes
a little milder, sultrier, less nasty,
Southern. A Dolly Parton of trees.
And the way you dress! Showy is not the word —
velvety ballgown at sunrise
conspicuous bouquet
out of season. Ostentatious, meretricious,
grandiose.
Have you no shame? Grandstanding
in all that floral fussiness, ruffly
taffetas, magenta megalomania, fuchsia
Cherubic satin whites, more blossom
than branch, blooms flamboyant
more than tasteful — and that scent — overwhelming!
Like a glorious heap of peonies gone wild,
spilling yourself all over
the lawns, dripping
gaudiness like a crystal chandelier
to a lightbulb,
baroque rococo castle
to a soddie
snowy egret
to a house sparrow.

Here
where every
little
spindle
and twig's
an extravagance.

Reprinted with permission
from The Heartlands Today, vol. 5
Copyright © 1986
by Lorraine Duggin


Miracle at Stink Creek
by Lorraine Duggin


CAPS We called the place Stink Creek;
stench invaded our nostrils
like foul incense while we knelt
on the banks above a city's waste.

Curious kids, we were not the stuff
of heroes. Sunday mornings
we gathered at that scene
fastened to a spewing spout of sewage
by the abominable objects
of our fascination:
the evidence of excrement.

Borne through network underground
of buried tubes — alive — the newborn
lamb's arrival at the river
seemed miraculous. He shot with refuse
from the sewerpipe to a pool
the Missouri drew into swifter stream.
We brave a waterworld of debris
and swirling, churning froth;
with a pole we fished him in.

Aborted. Premature birth. Expelled
from the womb, his mother slaughtered.
Wahtever cause, the castoff lamb,
coat of filth, a discard from the packing
plant floor, escaped somehow
death at delivery, death by disease
or drowning. We dragged him ashore,
wrapped mewling neonate in nylon
jackets fit only for Monday's wash.

Dripping, astonished, we carried him home,
proud parents handing out ribboned cigars,
awestruck kings bearing gifts of gold, perfume.

Reprinted with permission
from Prairie Schooner, Summer 1986
Copyright © 1986
by Lorraine Duggin


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