Front Range

by Steve Meador
FreeWrights Peer Review
Second Place, May 2012
Judged by Shara McCallum

The Front Range is arid, a place where leather simmers, takes ages to rot. Iron refuses to rust. It is a place of smoke and dust and sun lust. It is swept with tidal waves of wind that peel the moisture from your lips, gulp water from your body and shoot it up the slopes of the Rockies, or shove it down the throat of the plains. It is a region dry as mummy tongue and wrapped in a bland of multiple tans. There, you find yourself with flat lungs and legs of lead but, like the morning cool, those will escape to higher blue. You can walk where there are no sounds except gurgling nerves and a morning sun crushing its way along the next ridge. It is a place of catkins and cactus, meadowlarks and magpies, waterfalls and star-fired nights, cottonwood and columbine. It is rugged, littered with knee-deep creeks and weather-worn boulders. It is a massive and open land, lifting into the sky, like Icarus, and built on the back of smallness. That is something we all forget, that everything is built on and from and of smallness.

This prose poem’s description of place and use of anaphora are what initially drew me to it—there is much to appreciate here on the level of image and sound. In multiple readings, those remained constants. Added to that, I also became increasingly impressed and moved by the poets’ ability to lead us, through the accumulation of stark and desolate images of the Front Range, to the poem’s dramatic conclusion about the nature of life: “everything is built on and from and of smallness.” --Shara McCallum