In this smart meditation on place, Seeley (English/Univ. of San Francisco) gives to Kansas the time she never afforded it in her youth.
By the time the author was ready to go to college, she “worked at shucking Kansas off like the skin of a cicada.” She became a sophisticate, a cosmopolitan. Settled in San Francisco, Kansas dimmed to a flat, dull stereotype of Middle America. Yet even then, something nagged at her: “it unsettled me that in San Francisco I had joined the land of the lotus eaters, intoxicated by pleasure, forgetful of our pasts in other lands.” Eventually, a bout with cancer and the desertion of her lover forced Seeley to look homeward. The author elegantly captures the ambivalence of her return, and she opened herself to the place and accepted that what at first struck her as the “unrelenting horizon” of the high plains was actually a boundless marketplace of experience. She learned the history of the places she lived and delved into the native lore—the sacred bundles, medicine wheels and star maps of the Chahiksichahiks—experiencing a deepening and clarity of place.
“When a place lives in you beyond the limits of the senses, when its many maps are laid on your heart, maybe that’s when you really belong to it.” Seeley evocatively captures that place here.