What I Found in Iowa

By Linea King

Coming to Iowa
I thought I’d write about cornfields in long green rows, broad leaves blowing in the wind,
tassels rustling under expanses of blue blue blue blue skies.

I traded mountain ranges for cloudscapes that twist and turn for miles above my head,
resembling the windswept
beach sands of my Oregon coast
or march across
the vast sky in staccato puffs of cotton candy
as the sun rises or sets.

I exchanged my walk to the trendy grocery store a few blocks away,
for a 30-mile drive to town,
and a walk across the yard for eggs, counting bird calls on the way
and to be blown away by the layers of starlight blanketing our home at night.

I thought
I might write of how blessed I feel
to be living with the woman I have had a crush on
for over 20 years.

I thought
I would write about the multitude of birds,
Black birds
Cardinal Couples
Indigo Buntings
Red-headed woodpeckers

It’s the blue-eyed, corn-fed boys holding hands
in the middle school hall that

Unlike the boys in my middle and high school 40 years ago,
who had to
leave a       seat between them
in the theater so no one would think they were

These boys in Iowa,
kiss each other’s peach-fuzzed cheeks, meet in the hall with smiles so broad, and
foreheads touch, then noses touch, then a secret is shared and they laugh easily and turn and walk shoulder to shoulder
And right now
at least
no one
an eye

The brown-skinned girls who walk to class arm in arm
are who shine in my mind,
despite the bullies
in the halls of government
who try to tell them that they don’t belong in school,
in each other’s arms
except maybe
a slaughterhouse floor

It’s the kids who hide behind
blue or pink or green
bangs, who sit in my heart,
with half-buried names
that they thought
had been put
to rest
their seats
when their deadnames
are forcefully

The Iowa Legislature’s Attack on Children

SF 482:

Restricts students from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.
Signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 22, 2023

SSB 1197/HF 623:

Bans all forms of gender-affirming care up to age 18.
Signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 22, 2023

SF 496:

  • Forbids content related to gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K–6.Requires school staff to report students requesting gender-affirming accommodations, like pronoun changes, to parents.
  • Removes information about HPV and HIV from curricula.
  • Bans books depicting sex acts from school libraries but includes an exception for religious texts, like the Bible, Torah, and Koran.

Signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 26, 2023

SF 542:

  • Removes language providing for child-labor permits and migrant labor permits.
  • Allows minors to participate in certain work activities currently prohibited.
  • Modifies the hours of the day that minors may work.
  • Allows individuals 16 or 17 years of age to sell or serve alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, where sold under certain circumstances.

Signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 26, 2023

Linea King taught middle school ESL in Portland Public Schools for 25 years. She is now retired and substitute teaching in Portland, Oregon, and Central Iowa.