Kathleen Rooney: "Robinson's Car Is Nothing Like a Prairie Schooner"




yet he & Ann schoon the prairie. 

His parents moved to Orlando,


so this stop in Beatrice is as

unnecessary as the town itself.


Surrounding farms rot.

Lack things bought, once,


from his father’s company:

window-hinges, trellises, railings.


Father wooed Mother mostly

through mailings to live as help-


mate to the scion of a business

in the Cornhusker State


that began by manufacturing

actual cornhuskers.


Robinson love-hated it when

his father tried the same way


to win him to the family fold:

to convince him to grow old


in a wholesome place, writing

letters on stationery from hotels


in Middle Western towns

already fading, but unerasable—


errors in a ledger, terribly kept.

Father even took son with him


to some of the less depressing:

Robinson saw his first talkie


in the Twin Cities. It was fun

& he wrote a little review


his father had published

in the Beatrice Daily Sun.


The Big Blue River used to

shiver with prosperity. 


He & Ann walk down

the bank. The river is not


blue, but brown & you couldn’t

drown in it if you wanted to,


dry as the piece of creeping

gown his mother saved


& pinned to his baby book.

Looking to the skies, they see


no birds. Too hot. Robinson

craves the grace of rainy-day


games, but there seem to be

no more rainy days.



Kathleen Rooney is an editor of Rose Metal Press. She is the author of Reading with Oprah (University of Arkansas, 2005), the memoir Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object (Arkansas, 2009), the collaborative collection, That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness (Otoliths, 2008), co-written with Elisa Gabbert, and Oneiromance (an epithalamion) (Switchback Books, 2008).