I wrote this after traveling through the Badlands a few summers ago. The landscape confronted me with the obviousness of my limits as a human person. In one moment I felt keenly and very painfully aware of many of the things I’ve done or experienced that made me feel like a solitary and disconnected person. There on that dusty prairie amid the crags blew my failures. The coming rains implied the many things I should have done or somehow I believe I should have done, particularly the ending of my marriage. But what exactly the shoulds are I can’t say.
“Days Passes Day”
The sun idles over sunflowers and sage grasses below the Black Hills.
Today marks forty thousand days since blood fed the soil at Bull Run.
Day passes day. Shame scatters whimpering songs into wind-carved canyons.
Day after day he plays a plastic flute he wished were an eagle bone.
The sun sets on her shattered face a plate fallen from the westward wagon.
Fed up, dazed, he cast her aside in the Badlands where he wanted to leap,
a pronghorn on a butte assured of his footing, strong in legs and balls,
eternally mute, certain to earn an accolade, more than one plate.
Wind’s roar blows down the next day, drives storms into the dust.
Rattlesnakes wait where her whimpers vanished and his flute goes silent.