From Concourse As to Es
And from moving sidewalks
To gray carpeted walkways
To clickclickclick rolling suitcases
Over tiled routes
Through security and
Through revolving doors,
I have been finding my line,
And I have been walking a long way through
One inexhaustible place, a discipline of malaise,
Full of exhaustible people dressed
Like people who have forgotten where they used to live:
One more drinkers, cell phone talkers, Economist readers,
Obnoxious laughers, child chasers, job seekers
Line breakers, jet-lagged dozers, wheelchair riders,
Shrill complainers, cancellation losers, over-sharers
Wearing pinstripe suitjackets with blue jeans,
Or donning deep blue business suits, skirts,
And neon colored running shoes.
(Here’s a question and a fear:
Instead of a simple traveler’s
Lament about airports and hotels,
Everything does become one place?)
I put the crystal, six sided and about
An inch and a half long, in my mouth—
It still had some clay on it,
And I swished it around until it was clean.
The iron tasted like blood.
I pulled it out, and then I spit out my orange saliva–
More than once.
It was after supper and without telling anyone
Where we were going, we had
Walked over toward the barn,
Through the granary with
The 15 cent Coke machine
And shovels and sawdust,
Passed the tennis courts
And the vegetable garden.
At the barn after closing the gate,
We had turned up to the west, now walking just above
Now just below slick, muddy cow paths.
The heat had fallen out of the day
And the light had become more humane
As it saw us from a more and more
Acute angle, creating the illusion that
The glow came from the earth
Rather than reflected off of it.
It was the kind of light that helps you find crystals
Once in a while embedded in the clay
And exposed by afternoon gulley washers.
But the light advantage was short-lived as
The shadows lengthened to the point
Where their edges became soft.
There is no confusing airports
(Atlanta-Hartsfield, San Francisco, Chicago-Midway,
Seattle, New Orleans just since January)
and the Rockbridge County pasture I remember:
There the world got tired with me,
And we put each other to bed
To Taps and to
Bullfrog and cricket choruses.
The Virginia Mountains long ago
Got tired of being tall and jagged,
So their identities secured, they reclined,
Rounded, turned green, and
Now are in the business of
Surrendering their mineral wares
(Garnets, schist, quartz)
To streams, mostly slow enough now to wander more than fall
Toward the Maury,
Then to the James,
To the Chesapeake,
And on to the sea.
Now with clay layered on our shoes and our socks
And standing awkwardly against the steep sides
Of the eroded spot on the hillside,
I had wondered what was just beyond my view
Vacillating between looking at the
Same spot patiently and scanning
Chaotically in search of a flat shiny surface
Before the light lost us completely.
Just before our time ran out,
I had come upon it,
A straight line occurring in nature.
I dug with all day dirty fingers
Until it released from the side,
And I had put it in my mouth to wash it.
On the way back
I saw more things and more clearly–
a salt lick, invasive multi-floral rose,
Fresh ground mud from cows crossing the stream
A broken step on the stile,
The line of the barn roof,
The freshly cut graveyard hill,
The darkening cliffs of Jump Mountain–
Because it was in my pocket.
I could not see until I held it.
I could not hold it until I saw it.