Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The End of the Frontier

by Michael Ceraolo

The history books told us
(and maybe they still do,
I don't know)
                     that
the frontier was closed in 1890,
                                              an event
trumpeted with great fanfare by the Census Bureau,
                                                                           an event
posited as an important development
by a famous historian,
                                 being
no longer able to play cowboys and Indians for real
changed the country somehow,
                                               though
the exploitation and despoliation
just moved overseas

To a lesser degree,
                             1920
has been posited as a second closing:
the year when, for the first time,
more Americans lived in urban than rural areas
(the definition of "urban area"
makes this questionable as well)

I offer a third alternative,
unremarked upon at the time,
almost unremarked upon now:
the frontier ended in 1956,
                                       when,
on a day and date unknown,
for the first time in the country's history
more people worked for someone else
than worked for themselves

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