122. Barker’s Paper: “Flora and Fauna, Our Home, the Great Plains”

“Great Plains is
Dry. Nothing here can
Make it, needs much rain.
Summer’s hot. And
Not like Mississippi–tougher
Here. Like with
Plants. Grass here
Sets roots high to
Catch rain-showers,
Also sends roots
Deep where wet might be.
I pulled clumps where
Root ran sixteen
Feet. So
Kill this grass, comes
Back. The root
Don’t die.
It’s the same with
Seeds the wild plants
Make. Sleep years
In the field.
Once I saved some
Seed inside some
Paper. Few months.
Lay it near
The pond, it sprouted
Fine. Wild
Flowers, weeds–
Get some rainfall,
Why, they’ll bud out
Fast. Get none, bud
Slow–they keep
Watch on rain to
Do what’s best. And
Plants are grayer
Here than Mississippi.
Leaves here can be
Oily, fat, or like
Wax–the way some
Cactus are. Some
Leaves roll up.
Holds the wet
Inside. And keeps it
Safe.

“Take animals. Here,
You don’t see all
Kinds like Mississippi.
Don’t see colors,
Too. Here we can’t
Hardly find those
Birds we see in
Our Bird Friends, a game.
Creatures, most need
Water, and here,
Only water’s
Wallers been left
By old buffalo. They’d
Stand heat and cold.
All they did was
Walk around, find wallers:
Takes your whole life
Just to find some water.
Winters, they’d
Stand out in blizzards, face
The storm. Don’t
Drift like cattle,
Into snowed-in
Creek-beds, over
Cliffs!

“Up north saw
Antelope, my ma.
Animals out
Here, nowhere to
Hide–got to
Smell, hear, see.
Antelope smells
Trouble, flips its
Tail called flag and
Warns its friends.
They run.
They all guard their
Young, and horses
Too. They circle
To surround them,
Paw snow for colts’
Feed. Horses
In a storm will
Turn tail too,
But too smart to
Drift like cattle do.
Prairie dogs they
Burrow down in holes.
Prairie dog you
Watch it, it don’t
Drink. Watch all
Day–won’t drink.
Don’t need water.
Perfect. Them, their
Insides makes
Their own.

“Take grasshoppers–
Won’t guard their
Young–they’re bugs!
That’s why lay so
Many, so some
Last.
Watched a hopper
One time lay her
Eggs. Now then,
Jackrabbits–no one’s
Scared of them!
So their colors
Got to fit them
In–and they hop
Quick like hoppers
For safe land!
And they’ll take you
Uphill, if they can.
Got them ears,
So won’t be
Surprised. Pay
Attention, you can
Use your eyes, same
Way: watch. Rabbits’
Babies too are ready–
Born full-coated,
Always open
Eyes.

“In conclusion,
Most the creatures
That I wrote on here,
Got strong teeth–
So that they can
Chew whatever’s there.
What they need to
Eat, most can
Die off and grow
Back, but not this
Year. But just when
Dry spell’s done.

“But you mustn’t
Graze your sheep too
Long–cleft lips
Clip the joint where
New growth comes.
You see, even
Cattle ain’t that
Dumb.

THE END.”

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