“Ad Astra” by Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall reads her poem “Ad Astra” on the south steps of the Statehouse in Topeka during the inauguration of Governor Laura Kelly (9 January 2022)

In her new role as the Poet Laureate of Kansas (2023-2026), Traci Brimhall attended the inauguration of Governor Laura Kelly on January 9, 2023, and read a poem written in honor of the occasion. Below is the text of Traci’s poem, titled “Ad Astra.” (A video of Traci reading the poem is available courtesy of WIBW; the reading begins at 1:16.)

In the months ahead, we’ll be sharing updates of Traci’s work as Poet Laureate. You can also follow the Poet Laureate of Kansas Facebook account for news and events. 

Congratulations again to Traci on her new role!

Karin Westman, Department Head


“Ad Astra” by Traci Brimhall

The story we tell the future will have windmills
and the quiet clap of cottonwood leaves, annual

festivals and old streams elbowing their way into
fields that many histories ago were shallow seas.

The story will be what we make of it, with our corn
mazes and street corners, dirt roads and art districts,

block parties and community gardens. Our chapters
will be like our seasons­ — reliable in their surprises.

The busy plots of star-baked summers and the slow
conclusion of winter with its catalog of snowflakes.

In the story we are writing into the future there are
kids biking through the neighborhood and a great

blue heron at the pond hunting in its own shadow.
The story has the People of the Wind and people

of the wandering. The rooted and the transplanted.
What comes next, we can almost see — ­rain’s

brief signature on the sidewalk and a chevron of
migrating geese breaking up the wide open blue.

A story where wind romances a dandelion, and bees
lounge at their favorite goldenrod saloons. The story

we are writing to the future has facts, like how
a sunflower’s face is a union of individual seeds all

leaning towards the sun together. This story grows.
It changes with each day. It’s full of possibilities,

like how, before dawn ripens the horizon, the night
sky dreams one more story for the library of stars.

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