Wednesday, west of Sheridan, sky
flattens out like a dinner plate,
runs a marathon into Montana,
never gets winded, never turns for a backward glance at the Big Horns,
undresses the unleavened west two hundred miles to Stillwater.
Joy-running, a red balloon crisscrosses the highway in front of my truck.
Then caught in forty-mile-an-hour gusts it turns panicked
some tether, clutch
of creekside willow, chokecherry,
Have I been this reckless with my life?
During all those years I walked with my hands behind my back
did I strangle every opportunity
for love, pick-pocket pity on street corners, pray
to a beautiful but indifferent grievance,
waiting for a rose thorn to bloom?
Yesterday, east of Sheridan,
fields of September sunflowers hung their collared heads, multitudes
at the Vatican, miles