Mythical Cities of Southwestern Minnesota

“Mythical Cities of Southwestern Minnesota” is a poem by Megan Kurashige. I found its title irresistably evocative, so I have reused it here. Please forgive me, Megan.

Southwestern Minnesota contains several lost cities
but for our purposes here we’ll focus on one
lost since 1871
when a Lakota grandmother
ironically named Letty Swenson
became fed up with its streets
(to say nothing of its citizens)
and shut her eyes to it forevermore.

In an instant its prosperous Belgians,
lapsed Hutterites, sodden Germans,
bewildered Swedes and lone Korean
vanished from the prairie
and became suddenly and helplessly self-sufficient
in what amounted to a soap bubble in time.

Elsa Schultz
buxom and plain
had planned to steal a horse
and ride it clear to Sioux Falls
in search of better prospects
but had to settle for Sven Lindberg.

Jon Glazer
lost two-thirds of his income
unable to sell saddles
(and and feed, and tack, and medicine)
to his customers seven miles away
in Ghent.

Kim Cheol
(whom we won’t neglect)
had planned to travel to Marshall
to attend the Swedenborgian church
instead made peace with his god
among the Methodists.

If you visited it today
(I would not know how, but perhaps you do)
you would find two thousand souls more or less
nice folks, harmlessly inbred
who would be pleased to meet you
invite you to supper, pass you a hymnal
but lacking the imagination
to fathom why Letty was so pissed.

Image CC-BY-SA by Raphael Quinet

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