WORK, FATE AND SCENIC LANDSCAPE
Behind his house, the man hoards the shells of machines. The
eave-shadowed windows wink to the yard. Onions loosen in the
ground. Slow. The man takes inventory: Two
engines, face down; frame of a recliner chair. He fears
winter, the frost pasteurizing beneath his shovel and the sneers of
a rocky, cow-nibbled field. A tractor’s winged footrail
tousles the grasses. The barn’s roof—a swamp overhead, pushes
for the ground. Nothing keeps the machines in order.
Roots dunk the Plymouth chassis into a brush bed thick as sweaters.
Blue, the night quivers. A rain shower feeds the slow fire of
There was a dam in the eastern part of the country. For miles:
no one except an old man who tended a gas station. Few came
there except the men who checked on the dam. Others were hopelessly,
hopelessly lost. The old attendant died from a strange breed
of scalp mites, a parasite so unusual that entomologists from the
country’s two large and faraway cities came to take samples from the
Desert funerals encourage prompt action. In two days the old
man’s nieces and nephews arrived. T hey wore leather jackets and ate
orange peanut butter crackers. One of the boys spray-painted
DEAD on the gas pumps. Later, when the tourists scrambled to
the Scenic Overlook installed in the landscape, they pointed to the
rubble which was the gas station. Below, the water turned over in
The turbines arrive in boxes from Paris.
Once interlocked with spin-wheels
and nuts, and propped in fields,
the turbines look like tethered gliders
reaching up. The sound is a nun’s whisper.
I’m dizzy in the heat. Maurice, sent to us
from the dapple-lit house on the hill,
is an old man; his saliva threads
prisms to his lips, beautiful to a hornet’s eye.
Each turbine sheet spins like a Saint Christopher’s
medal I once had, glinting then lying flat
to the skin. Wine from these vineyards
is hearty and good—thick with wind and earth turns.