100th Meridian

100th Meridian
On November days wandering near the 100th Meridian
(fabled barrier to rainfall in the Great American Desert),
the tail end of the grouse season when birds are flighty,
or midway through deer season when heart-stopper bucks
are wise or dead and yesterday’s doe a should-have regret,
prairie wind writhing lewdly through wool and flannel,
groping to touch some naked skin where it can slip in
and pull away my warm-centered self, turn me inside out,
I learn anew my body is the last true refuge, a fragile home,
in a world open to an unending sky with unending desire
to wear down and smooth away rough and ragged intrusions.
These are days when often comes the uncontrolled fortune
to shiver free of this body’s shelter and for so brief a time
be windborne with the bluestem seed and tufts of grama
and all else carried by winds that mean to move us from
inside’s tight-closed and close-huddled here-and-now
to outside’s everywhere-and-forever wilderness.
At the moment of escape I pull my coat tighter and myself back.
Back into my refuge, this shelter, shielding from prairie wind
a soul not yet free to venture across the 100th Meridian.


About Jerry Johnson

Curmudgeon. Bird hunter and dog trainer. Retired journalist and college public relations director. Former teacher, coach, mentor. Novelist and short story writer. Husband, father, grandfather.
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