After Christian Wiman's "Rhymes for a Watertower"
Big sky the hue of crude. An endless field
of desolation. Early winter. Brown
fills this landscape, russet, drab. A pumpjack
bows to the earth in prayer. A miracle
can bring a wasteland back to life—a grove
of Texas wildflowers burst come spring:
homes blooming, downtown buildings thrusting
up to the sun, and markets opening
their doors like petals to the gentle buzz
of citizens who come, a colony
a rabble or a swarm, to fertilize
this land with green. The highways snake through wilds.
A cloud of dust kicks up as summer's
heat beats down on everything. The days
linger and slice the nights—the flickering neon
not enough to keep the dark at bay.
The moon becomes the hue of rust. The creek
brims with dust. Infinity of sky
watches from above, but nothing stops
the coming season, passing time, the tumble
of tumbleweeds, the sable blood from running
dry in the roots that hold this world in place.
The houses wither. Storefronts board their windows.
The pumpjack pleads and kneels to the earth.
Its rusted metal whines a final prayer
before it stills and silence fills the vista.