George Neame

 

 

 

Why Wyoming

I spend a lot of my working hours daydreaming of Wyoming.
I’ve never been to Wyoming, but I know
the marshland smells prehistoric, and the foothills
of the mountains run rugged and unpredictably
through pinewood forests and streams with names
like Encampment River and Wolverine Creek.
I know this because at any moment I could leave
my desk in Liverpool Street to start a new life in Wyoming,
walking until the bluffs blister my toes and sleeping
under the stars on the banks of Meadowlark Lake.
It humbles me to know that each morning, someone
wakes up to drive to work at the Pioneer Museum
in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, while someone else switches
on the popcorn machine at the Buffalo Theatre,
about ten miles south of Saddlestring, Wyoming.
And if the junegrass of Northern Wyoming becomes
too familiar, we can uproot ourselves from the
mountain brooks and paddle downriver to the
bubbling springs of Thermopolis, Wyoming, and
the copper canyons of the Wind River Reservation
where bison roam the planes and kick up
rust-coloured dust in the stretched evening sunlight.
Why Wyoming? Wyoming has a population of
around 577,000. If each line in this poem were
an equal portion of Wyoming, only 15,000
people would live on each one. If we in this room
were the only occupants of Wyoming, we’d each
have (97,914 divided by number of people in the room)
kilometres to ourselves and would in all probability
never see or hear of another human being
for the rest of our lives.
On a silent midwinter morning, I picture the
imprints of black bears in powdery snow,
ice forming silently in the pebbly shallows of
river bends, and hoarfrost on the bluestem
grasslands of Thunder Basin.
I’ve never felt more awake
than when dreaming of Wyoming.

 

 

 

George Neame is a publisher in London, but in recent years has lived in Tennessee, Dublin and Leeds. His poetry has previously appeared in the mothAcumen and Antiphon

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