I can still remember the first time I saw the University of Kansas. I was in the white mini-van with my family, on our way to Texas to look at colleges, “just swinging by” KU and Lawrence to check things out. It was supposed to be a quick trip. But eventually, I decided to stay forever. There are times even now when I see, from miles out, those red roofs glinting in the sun. There are times when I think about how much different my life would be if I’d never come here. There are times when I still get a little teary-eyed over everything this place means to be. And I know I’m not alone. Proof? This poem, which I found in Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems, American Places.
Peace on my little town, a speck in the safe,
comforting, impersonal immensity of Kansas.
Benevolence like a gentle haze on its courthouse
(the model of Greek pillars to me)
on its quiet little bombshell of a library,
on its continuous, hidden, efficient sewer system.
Sharp, amazed, steadfast regard on its more upright citizenry,
my nosy, incredible, delicious neighbors.
Haunting invasion of a train whistle to my friends,
moon-gliding, regular breaths of the old memories to them–
the old whispers, old attempts, old beauties, ever new.
Peace on my little town, haze-blessed, sun-friended,
dreaming sleepy days under the world-champion sky.
c. Fall 1941