Prose Poem: Frost

The frost came this weekend, which got me thinking about how things change, sometimes pretty darn quickly. Change has been on my mind lately: my father’s illness and the big changes it has brought to his life; how quickly my nation is marching (once again) to a war in Iraq; our inability to deal with a changing climate with any kind of effectiveness.

So, here’s a prose-poem (of sorts) that ponders how change can happen very quickly sometimes; at the same time it tries to recapture some of my writer-self that took a trip somewhere unknown for awhile. I hope it had a good time out there.


Have you ever noticed how days can go by and things change so slowly as to be imperceptible? Take summer, for instance. In Iowa, the sun glares at rows of corn for what seems like eons; the locusts lay down a wall of sound from behind the oak leaves. Then suddenly, like last night, the sky clears and the heat that had gathered in the rock wall, and under the leaves of the plums — so tenacious all summer — vanishes silently as an introvert at an office party. By morning, you wake to find Fall has already unpacked its valise, and the garden, filled with squash and cucumbers, wilts, tilting the color wheel from green to brown.

The ancients thought the world was flat, beyond which lay its rim. One minute you’re sailing blithely along, the next you’re over the precipice and in the jaws of a dragon. We modern people are wiser, of course, and know that there is no boundary, no limit, no moment where with a single step we leave one world behind and enter another. From deep within the middle the tomatoes are so ripe and red, the edge so very far away.

— Steve Peterson, 2014


6 thoughts on “Prose Poem: Frost

  1. Steve,
    Ah the edge and the dragon, so very far away? Or not. Frighteningly beautiful.
    Glad your writer self has returned.

    • Thanks for reading, Julieanne! I am looking forward to hearing you present at NCTE in DC in November.

      And, yes, it is a bit frightening. Hopefully not too much so…but…there are some difficult things just over the horizon.

  2. Wow, so physical and so philosophical at the same time. I love the tomato as an ending. (And my daughter is in college in Iowa, so I’m living your descriptions a little vicariously.) Thank you.

    • Dorothy,
      Thank you so much for stopping by to read this! It was great to sit down and write again. My more creative writer side disappeared for awhile. Hopefully it has come back for awhile!

      Your daughter is in IA?!! Not many folks actually come to IA. Though it is a great place to live (especially our little corner of NE IA, where the last bunch of glaciers missed and the ground is hilly), our reputation is not, shall we say, stellar. 🙂

    • I was thinking Jimi Hendrix there. As you know from late-summer in Ohio, sometimes the sound, itself, seems like something living. Thanks so much for reading. And it was wonderful to get a fleeting glimpse of you on Google hangout the other night. Looking forward to having a chance to meet you in November.

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