The residents of Grand Island, NE witness very little growth in a lifetime. Every summer, middle school students trudge through miles of corn rows, their gloved hands uprooting the tassels, mud caked up to their knees. In the fall, families drive their minivans to the farmer’s market to purchase a plastic bag of corn to be shucked in the backyard that evening. The pond freezes over every winter, and unthaws as the neighborhood comes alive. Teenagers skip rocks across the surface of the pond and monologue about the day the town would let them leave. Gas prices remain stable under $2, unemployment a steady 3.6% and the B-grade department stores cycle through as the millennials run them out of business. Grand Island has always been a quiet place to live. Conflict rests in murmurs of poolside gossip, behind the gates of the country club. The mayor of the town spends his time off as the high school’s soccer coach. The teenagers that wished for something greater left to seek it, and those that returned after college took up the family business. There was never a desire for change and therefore most things did not. Residents preferred the convenience, prices, and segregation of the two local Walmarts. Five separate Subways provided businessmen with $5 footlongs, and Applebees gave the resident a night life with $2 rum and cokes on Tuesdays.
And yet, the residents have their sunrises. It is not uncommon for people to advocate for their hometowns’ sunsets. Sunsets can be beautiful almost anywhere. Sunrises, on the other hand, are a delicacy. One summer morning in Grand Island, NE, a barista clocks in for her opening shift. She rubs away the sleep from her eyes, catching the crust and smeared mascara that lines them. She looks out the drive-thru window to see the sun ascend out of the horizon. Creamsicle orange and deep maroon spill out from its center like an egg yolk spooling out when pricked with a fork. To see something rise out of nothingness, the sun like a blanket tucking in a child, goodnight.
Sarah Koubek is a third year from Grand Island, Nebraska, studying Creative Writing and Economics. She drinks iced coffee year round, and thinks she is edgy for having a nose piercing and wearing Doc Martens. She is a member of the poetry staff.