Iowa Writes

from "Bound"

Uncut this could be Whitman's hair—the grass on this gentle slope overlooking oak trees that mark the boundary of Hickory Hill Park. I remember its trails, the limestone foundation of a settler's house long abandoned, all the seasons of falling—leaves, then good snow.

We could lie here, my love says, pointing to a number at the far corner of her map that has led us down a single lane road to this back edge of Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City. We are in our fifties, our only daughter married a month ago and moved, leaving a roomful of silence. And my love, who plans every day, would like a stone for our names and a marble bench for anyone who might stop here to sit and think a moment and watch—chin in hand—the morning breeze wash the leaves to gold. Such tidiness. 

"What do you think?" she asks, kneeling to run her hand over the grass the same way she smoothes soil over seeds in her flower beds.

"Very peaceful." In the distance, beneath the oaks, a broken rail interrupts a fence edging the park. The trail, the way out, must lie beyond those trees, I imagine. She tugs at my sleeve. She looks inquisitive and earnest. I help her up.

"Would we face east or west?"

I'd rather not face any way, I think to myself but don't know how to tell her this. And never have, really. This inclination to order our lives I have so admired and loved in her for thirty years, I turn from time and again to gaze out a window. "I have to go, " I say sometimes, but I'm not sure where.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


James McKean has published two books of poems, Headlong (Univ. of Utah) and Tree of Heaven (Univ. of Iowa), and a book of essays, Home Stand: Growing Up in Sports (Michigan State University). He lives in Iowa City and teaches at Mount Mercy College.

"Bound" appears in the current issue of The Iowa Review (37/1, Spring 2007).

This page was first displayed
on May 21, 2007

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