My particular perception of reality is concrete, which means I use my senses a lot, with little to no “distance” separating “who I am” from my sensory information. That is, I don’t “supernaturalize” information. I don’t use words to create social scaffolds of “meaning” that lead farther and farther away from understanding the environment. Meaning for me is the experience of being alive. Sometimes that experience is painful, precarious and uncertain, but “certain” is exactly what existence is not. Social humans have all manner of delusions that help them feel safe.
I wrote poems (not exactly my thing) when I first moved to Wyoming. Looking back, I can see that it was a way to become familiar with a magnificent new landscape that I already seemed to know, because the sensations it produced were similar to sensations that began when I was a child and found familiarity, contentment, and beauty in particular images – real or artistic. In a way, it was if I was completing a picture of my reality, as a child who was did not belong where she was supposed to belong, and found it necessary to “jump ship” and swim until she either drowned or survived.
A Cold Evening
The screen door is open to the full moon
and to telling-of-snow clouds that push across its white face
and to a rip saw wind that breaks our few trees,
and the empty sound of a can that rattles along the street.
Barren town, barren land, sand in my boots, a cobble in my hand:
Fifty million years is a short trip into earth’s history,
But it’s a nice distance from humanity.
Wheel tracks cut the flanks of yellow hills,
as if the lowly sagebrush and bitter creosote end somewhere,
and a person could drive that far.
Years vanish as if I had been sliding across glass instead of living:
my fingernails have left skid marks on time.
It was a happier life that I knew before this year, and yet,
I managed to digest my father’s death
and to end a cold war with my brother, who pampers an ancient grudge
like a Russian who aches to launch one last missile
for old time’s sake.
Beyond the simple life my capacities are wanting:
I know my house, the rocks and flowers in the garden,
and listen for the dogs’ overblown defense of our mundane perimeter.
I was made for this place, and insist on the right to set my limits low
but my horizons high.
The arrant light of daybreak restores our desert province to precious clarity,
but as the world turns, the gray chaparral and yellow cliffs bloom white hot
and the banded hills become a picture that is overexposed and uninviting.
The reward for our endurance comes at twilight, when nature’s products,
and man’s efforts as well, are suffused with the crimson wavelengths
of the sun’s farewell. Until tomorrow then; the earth’s rotation is our refresh icon.
Sagebrush stains the air a chemical color,
with a smell that is dark red and orange and concentrated, like piss.
A lone receptor in my nose approves of the bitter stink and passes it to my brain,
where it connects to all Octobers.
Small tasks become precious ways to gather time:
a thread, when pulled, makes emptiness into a pretty ruffle.
On sunny days, when isolated clouds throw shadows
across the land, it may be said to be pretty, as a plain woman
may be pretty if she takes pride in her plain face.
Summer to the third power –
no clouds, no shade, no escape
from the blue spaces, from the yard
burning hot and red and pink,
as if the chimes and lawn chairs
and a whirl-a-gig were featured
in Home & Garden: MARS.