Ann Struthers

Star Folk in Iowa

Local Culture

The star folk insist in their spangled lingo
that I tell you they love pink plastic flamingo
lawn ornaments, the oval shape, the angle

black leg-stance, stiletto beak, elegant curve
of the neck. They drive out on Sundays to observe
yard and garden art. Sometimes they return unnerved

or mystified: the wooden old woman
as she bends to weed, displaying her bloomers—
they aren’t certain, but they think it’s humor.

The statue of Mary, who may be in distress
under half an up-ended bath tub—they express
their bewilderment and would rescue her if asked.

They love wind socks, flags, running whirligigs,
cream separator cones my Uncle Albert rigged
in wind wheels, and weather vanes with arrows and fat pigs.

Star Bach

The star folk tune bassoons, oboes, drums, harps,
and violins for music of the spheres.
Hip hop, rap, rock, move them to starry tears
who’ve heard Bach play the organ at Weimar.

They know the ending of The Art of Fugue,
although Bach died before he finished it.
For cheer they hum it sometimes in concert
to lift the clouds that cover their dark moods.

His notes, like purple plums, smooth, ripe, and big
for choral voices—Mass in B Minor
that made violas and basses shudder—
and his patron, Leopold, in Leipzig,

these move stars still. They count them as a gift
and the Toccatas in D Minor and in F