Monday, September 26, 2005

Seeking a Future

I've been looking into M.F.A. programs. I can't decide what to do with my future, wait around for something to happen or set something in motion. It's hard to know. So while I was at the UNLV site, I discovered this poet, Aliki Barnstone. And then I looked her up and found this poem. I think it's very good. So, for those of you aren't threatened by poetry, here it is:

Blue Earth

The moving van slowed uphill under my possessions:
jewels, lifework, junkboxes.
The turtle with the world on its back.

Mile markers rushed by.
The truck crossed the Missouri River into the Midwest,
and I left California's promise.

Just when I thought, "There will be no more,"
I saw a sign, BLUE EARTH. A town perhaps
named over a century ago

by someone who could see the earth from space,
a Winnebago holy man who prophesied
the moonshot photograph.

Then I guess the land was stolen by settlers
who counted blessings in corn flourishing lush
blue in the haze and summer storms.

Affliction was the twister that ripped away a wall
but left the Afghan hanging on the rocker-back,
every dish in the hutch intact.

And then snow came,
the sky cleared,
and the fields turned blue again.

I imagine the faithful filing into church
to kneel and clasp their hands in the awkward pews,
then to bear witness to the commonplace in the graveyard.

I don't know how they broke the frozen earth for the dead.
Now I see my old life everywhere it isn't. Here
the lakes tell me brightly how the light looks:

the now in all the ohs the sun reflects on water —
then my awe becomes a history,
open-ended as loss, and I need

to make it like something I see:
white barnsides in the morning
next to rectangular black fields just like billboards

advertising WHITE and BLACK
or the real billboard exhorting, PRAY! IT WORKS!
as I drive to work.

My soul under winter, my sad sleep
are like black dirt
and corn stubble,

or the white farmhouse and the white barn
lit up unlikely, like hope or home,
the white house and the white barn followed

by another house and barn that almost seem to yearn.
Just when I thought "There will be no more," I saw
Blue Earth. Hope, harvest, stubble, title of my days.

Aliki Barnstone

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