In his fifth year the son, deep in the backseat   
of his father’s Ford and the mysterium
of time, holds time in memory with words,
night, this night, on the way to a stalled rig south   
of Kiowa Creek where the plains wind stacks   
the skeletons of weeds on barbed-wire fences   
and rattles the battered DeKalb sign to make   
the child think of time in its passing, of death.

Cattle stare at flat-bed haulers gunning clumps   
of black smoke and lugging damaged drill pipe   
up the gullied, mud-hollowed road. Road, this   
. Roustabouts shouting from the crow’s nest   
float like Ascension angels on a ring of lights.   
Chokecherries gouge the purpled sky, cloud-
swags running the moon under, and starlight   
rains across the Ford’s blue hood. Blue, this blue.

Later, where black flies haunt the mud tank,   
the boy walks along the pipe rack dragging
a stick across the hollow ends to make a kind   
of music, and the creek throbs with frog songs,   
locusts, the rasp of tree limbs blown and scattered.   
The great horse people, his father, these sounds,   
these shapes saved from time’s dark creek as the car   
moves across the moving earth: world, this world.

  • B. H. Fairchild, “Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest” from Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest. Copyright © 2003 by B. H. Fairchild. Reprinted with the permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  • Source: Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2003)

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