Thursday Poem

Just across the border from north Texas,

my car broke, the land’s heat
hovered above

the defunct road I’d rolled it onto

with the clump of empty, yellowish buildings
at the dead end,

the exit on the interstate being

there I guess
really only for the road that actually

goes somewhere

in the opposite direction,
its border as deserted as my part

until the eye caught

dust-colored cardboard-box-like houses
lining the red hill’s foot

far south across

the roar of highway.
The car was dead, useless

—no way away

from this place so I sat in the heat
with the windows up

for as long as I could stand it—and my

dog—waiting for the tow truck,
then rolled them down

a little, just a crack because I

feared some slasher-movie kind of incident,
cruelty that seemed

fitting here,

the sun being cruel
and the sharp sand grains—then

more, rolled the window

farther down, then all the way but even that
wasn’t enough, so I

opened the door

as if it had been years that I’d been
in there,

broke a seal, as if it had been

since someone,

some sort of mason probably,

with the hope and fear of anarchic times
had sealed me in

to preserve

—what for what?

—as if a living thing could leave its tomb.
I ended up on the car hood

where these birds I didn’t recognize

fed on locusts
it looked like. There was the

click of exoskeletons, a

remarkable display of leaping
—by the birds!

(it wasn’t flying)—

as they went by turns into the cloud, came out
invariably with a bug in the beak,

then went back in,

my dog tugging on the leash
but we were

free, me barely catching breath

in wonderment
at another kind of what.
by Elizabeth Arnold