I went to sleep
in the cotton rows
child's hands raw,
belly empty as
my mother's brown eyes
that hot day she left me
alone by the river mud's soft folded stink.
I cracked my lids
in the hard nitre'd bed where
time cries out loud in the torture of change,
where rain becomes air
on dry roserock hills, deep in the gulch
where the snake promised water
and had nothing but dust
visions without sight,
day without night. I was small as
the sand when I rose up again
on the last thermal's wings,
on the story of gulls, on the wild windy
ballad the dark singer sang
to the tide in my bones.
posted for earthweal's weekly challenge,
Process note: I've tried to present here the transition from the presence of water, to its absence. The bottom photo is of natural geologic erosion in the Borrego Badlands of California, and the top, work in the cotton fields possibly in Oklahoma(?) around the turn of the century.* This poem tries to bridge the gap between, for what are fields now may in the future become the desert landscape, moonlike and barren, that the climate has made of the badlands, which extend over much of the western part of the US, from New Mexico to California.
Header Image, *Picking cotton, author, location and date unknown, from an Oklahoma heritage FB site, public domain (the people on this site discussed their memories of grandparents or parents hand-working the cotton fields in Oklahoma as children. Oklahoma still grows cotton and was the fourth largest producer in the US, according to this 2017 report. )
Footer Image: Borrego Badlands, California USA, author unknown, Fair Use.