Saturday, May 21, 2011

Babes in the Hinterlands

...The canyons cooled. Indigo darkened,
Oozing out of the earth like ectoplasm,
A huge snake heaping out. "This is evil,"
You said, "This is real evil."
Whatever it was, the whole landscape wore it
Like a plated mask. "What is it?"
I kept saying. "What is it?"
As if that might force the whatever
To materialize, maybe standing by our car,
Maybe some old Indian.

"Maybe it's the earth,"
You said. "Or maybe it's ourselves.
This emptiness is sucking something out of us.
Here where there's only death, maybe our life
Is terrifying. Maybe it's the life
In us
Frightening the earth, and frightening us."

--Ted Hughes, "Birthday Letters" (1998)

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I wrote the below after traveling through the same part of the country in 1994, on my road trip from Texas to California:

DESERT

is the true gothic

what lightness to guide
sunshine like
new tongued lithium

sucking last life
out of surprised cactus
and never praying for rain

what obscure world
what mind to be in
that could come close
to your deliverance

think snake even thinks of you

think sun sets once
with you in mind

try lizard mercy
sun mercy
cactus
sand
snake
tongue forked to flick
at nothing in particular

your own absence

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Until I read the Hughes poem later, I'd never known that anyone had picked up on the evil (empty) vibes of the desert, as I had.

2 comments:

ĐĘĀÑ said...

It's funny how people see things differently. I always found a kind of solace from the merciless emptiness of the desert when I lived there.

My best

Beth Austin said...

For solace, I've always liked woods and trees. Second best, watching oceans come to shore. Deserts too removed from life for me...