Voices on the Wind Voices on Waiting
Cape Girardeau, Missouri by Mark Vogel when the latest Chamber of Commerce leaders gather to envision progress, to belch conviction without burrs, to celebrate believers who gave hard money for a glossy town history pared to narrow essentials, oblivious to Methodist bake sales, stoic Midwest humor, even good-hearted Rush Limbaugh’s mother, as she cringes at her son’s excess. Chapter one forgets the city founder trading sweet whiskey to Indians to make a fortune. Instead, bronzed Shawnee, Osage, Capaha stand isolated and noble in a landscape tinted like a Disney diorama. On page 6, the rumbling New Madrid earthquake causes the Mississippi to run upriver, fat and brown. Nowhere are the aftershocks, the list of casualties. Chapter two documents the Trail of Tears river crossing, but focuses most on the state park looking east to exotic Southern Illinois. Missing are frenetic slaves, and the underground railroad corridors. Nowhere are sharecropper shacks squatting in baking sun. Nowhere are immigrants, like Great Grandpa breathing Missouri fever, pushing a family down-river. Nowhere his subsequent eighteen-mile move to the city, the crucial stories of cows and goats and chickens so thoroughly come and gone. Nowhere the exquisite copperheads poised to strike, the billion red chiggers eating beneath the skin, the mosquitoes collecting in clouds. Nowhere the ancient rocks from the farm stacked bald and clean. Nowhere this current generation with strange haircuts, and electronic devices biding time, in Denver, Orlando, Washington, D.C., waiting for a blessed sign— preparing for a triumphal return.