Amy Lynne Holt
West Texas in the Fall
Where traveling words catch in
thick dust clouds twisting across flat
miles and your throat hacks up
the dust from your lungs—
where drawn-out sentences are left
dangling on the tongue, where you
know you shouldn’t talk too much but
this kind of aloneness wets your mind
with unhealthy thoughts like that love
is a stone settled on a sea bed
under grey water and you are breathless
from inhaling cotton.
When everything is brownish red
your black shoes no longer exist,
the color of your shirt matches
the color of your hair. Your hair
the color of dust and you think
this homogeny was the answer
to some forgotten question posed
back when nomadic men verging
toward Sulphur tasted liquid gold
pressing itself up through the ground
to new the light and rising, rising.
To My Mother at Twenty
In a year you’ll have a child and soon
two more, in New Jersey—
an elderly couple will leave dinners
for your children at the door.
When you’re dead I’ll take your ashes back home
to Texas. I don’t like to think of such things but I miss
what the sand gives back. A mother receives children
as a sidewalk, its petals of crape myrtles.
Alone in the future you’ll find yours
have lasted like foil in the oven.
I wanted to tell you to throw
your desires into the oil well, let them
steep in what is rich beneath the sand.
An army of creations couldn’t give you
what lies below the surface.
The Wrinkled Sheet a Desert
Buddy Holly statue in Lubbock, TX
And his glasses reflect swarms of packed-in faces
lit up by neon signs, bare-breasted women and hands
cupped to a chin, or bent forward sipping water from the faucet.
I see him and know that, to me, staked plains look like hundreds
of ironing boards.
What separates us, beautiful landscape, may beckon those
who don’t know what to look for,
or what I look for.
A Body Speaks from Where It Lies:
On Lake Lavon where you are lost,
I fill with water in the reed; yes
I ended life in water where life began.
This arrival we mustn’t understand
as death. It’s choice. We can will
our union with mud water
and search the beneath of surface for lost souls.
Don’t be scared—flat-shaped fish and seaweed
will mark our lifeless bodies as invisible.
You say you won’t be keeper for the dead,
you don’t want to sink beyond God’s reach.
You say you want to go home.
Well perhaps by sunset you’ll find the dock,
take the man’s hand who searched for you
all afternoon as your fingers blossom red.
But baby, don’t you want this lake? Let’s
move through this water like snakes
through monkey grass—Will you please, please stay?
In West Texas
After James Wright
Driving to Lubbock the day before Thanksgiving
I think of my father selling the cotton that combines
spit back to the field during harvest.
I think of grapefruit in the Rio Grande Valley,
their slow deaths in my papa’s starved garden,
the intrusive green.
And lovers who sip wine then lick slippery tracks
along each other’s bodies as the toll of the church bell
holds the landscape in amber-colored film.
Saint Paul was restrained by understanding
as a blind wind transcribed on the sand messages from home.
So each December I break from my body
and become the wind, in search of days we have yet to outgrow.
But now it’s only Fall, so I spit, and I have no explanation.