Souvenir from a Windy Planet
We’ve landed in a microclimate of shrubs and yucca
with no tall trees to break the wind.
I turn my head and the air’s a flag flapping,
turn the other way and grasses hiss,
quiet as a lisp. I’d like to let a gust blow in one ear and out
the other and take language with it,
yet still bring home a poem. The guys hike down
into the wash and up on a golden slope.
No one will mind, they said before jumping out of the car,
but I stayed a minute to see what we were up against—
as it turned out, just slashed paths from an old mine,
not a soul or cow in sight.
So I yell, Stop, so I can take a picture, but the bluster
grabs my request, shreds it, and sends it over black branches
and rolling land, out to the mountain-ringed horizon.
I want my family posed against the landscape, close-up.
My husband’s rust-colored trousers are the same shade
as that pile of tailings, his beard the silver of cholla bones;
my son is brown topped like a rock baked in the sun.
I pick through brambles and crest the hill, where they’ve already
built a cairn. The three of us look down to chunks of stone,
low plants, a few cacti, all in a planet of pale yellow
that waves beyond the corners of our eyes.
Hair whips my cheeks and tangles against my nose.
I have a barrette, but I won’t use it. I’ll let my tresses
blow to string so that back home, in the still indoors,
they’ll shush like dried grass.
by Sarah Carleton, first published in Tar River Poetry
Editor’s Note: This poem’s carefully stanza breaks heightens the imagery of risk-taking and worry and the eventual acceptance of how love brings you to unexpected places where you want to hold on to it forever.