Traveling through Glacier Country

It's a journey of a couple of hours and about a million years
from this late Wisconsin gravel ridge to the middle Mississippian limestone
in Morgan County. Crossing the Crawfordsville Moraine I realize
how important it is to name things: childhood, stones.
Suddenly I'm in (this is Geological Survey terminology,
not new age phenomenology) the confusion of the interlobe,
trying to find in the distance the Champaign moraine, the Shelbyville
(who knew it would be so hard to see through summer haze, who knew
there'd be so many obscuring oaks?)

This dark line traced on my map is the last advance of Wisconsin ice,
its various sheets marked by snail beds, the Vertigo alpestris oughtoni.
Sheets, beds…glacial geology's so matrimonial: its advances and retreats,
its stagnations, its fossil-rich layers dense and dark and mysterious.
More boundaries: the Illinoian, "it left few moraines" (wanting this
for one's children: only a few jumbled piles of jagged ice and rock, detritus
under plastic, deformed ice); the nearly hidden features of the Kansan,
which many, finding only a thin bed of dust, a buried sediment in a stream cut,
nevertheless believe in.

Judy Smith McDonough

If you've any comments on her poems, Judy Smith McDonough would be pleased to hear from you.