Sunday, February 26, 2012

East/West/East

The sunset is classic today.
Clouds scratch across the sky from the north east and point in the direction of home; southward, westward. Arching high above the prairie, they too seem to think that this is "fly-over country". I wanted to come here so that I could know the un-ness of that idea. To touch the ground, touch the country. They are white and high and straight as arrows that made this land work. They end together in the corner of my left eye, a soft peach patch next to the sun. And above those clouds and their lightness and whiteness and highness and straightness and pointingness, the sky is the softest, babiest blue that can't help itself but to remind me of my brother as a baby. Maybe that color is given to all baby boys; he was the one I knew the most, the one I held first.
The clouds look like they were stretched, or maybe that they are running. They are like a masthead that is leading a ship to the west, to the south, to "America".

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I was thinking today about how I am an un-pioneer these days: pushing myself backwards from the history of my faith, from the narrative that had been my cultural harbor in so many ways, but that has also repelled and rejected me, and left me alone, here, in the middle.

Ogden, my birthplace, with its train memorabilia: Jack Kerouac talked about it once and made me feel valid and liberally liberated. My people settled this place and they dot the land there. Children of the "last living son of a Utah pioneer", they learned to love the land, and it pumps in my veins in very real ways. That baby boy. That summer dust in my nose.

And then westward, ever westward, the American Dream; Manifest Destiny. Progress.

San Diego, flourishing under early Mormon community, and the land of my adolescence. My people are there still, at least physically. Go west; paradise is there.

But I always push back. I always rupture the narrative.

Provo, with that university and my heart's home. This is where I found myself and came to know myself as the best that I could be. This is where I was first the happiest. There will be more, I know, but this was my first.

Lincoln now, where trains do not exist in memoriam, but in shining and cutting reality, declaring themselves consistently set to a schedule I cannot untangle. Where is the Mormon trail here? The trail my people plodded? There is a cemetery a little less than an hour away that I haven't yet been to, that might tell me more. I wonder if they were here. I wonder if they would care about me. That I am reversing their trail.

Un-cross the continent.

Those clouds are a deep purple now, yet they push all the same. They are reminding about how the west was won. Won from what? I am not homesick for a real home, but for a place that may have never existed; for vapor, high, white clouds that point ever west. Eventually, the land runs out.

The birds and the squirrels all assembled themselves in the trees outside of my window to watch the sunset. I have never seen such a thing. It might be because I have never lived at the height of treetops before. The birds fluttered and flitted around a good deal before they claimed their positions, sort of a clumsy dance. The looked more like they were falling, flapping their wings only to lift themselves high enough to avoid crashing. It seemed like they were contending, because once they settled, they stayed until dark.

3 comments:

gavin said...

Wow. This post was really well written. It made me pause to try and look at where the prose stopped and the poetry began and I could not find the juncture.

Thank you.

Rachel Hunt said...

I love your words/heart/mind so much.

It is amazing really, to push back and retrace every step.

Marge Bjork said...

you say some very good things.