Saturday, April 5, 2014

April is National Poetry Month, Day 5

The Marfa Lights
by Kurt Heinzelman

(First reported by early settlers in 1883, these
mysterious lights still defy explanation. A prime
viewing site is nine miles east of town on U.S. 90,
looking south. —TxDOT)

My daughter never saw them, but she heard
the other stories told the night before
by the portera in the lobby of Hotel Paisano
where they stood side by side beside the blown-up
Life photos of Giant, filmed in the false-front
Reata ranch house at the edge of town: those
were tasty hotel sagas, of joy-cries coming
through thick adobe, of sudden cold, flickerings
in unrestored rooms—and then, later that night,
surely she thought she saw them, her own ghosts,
aglow in the corner like slices of stained glass,
which was what she was telling us all about
the next night as we drove east in a red haze
to where the lights on the southern horizon
were starting their weird dos-à-dos
like car lights winding up and down alpine
switchbacks, except there are no roads out there,
let alone mountains . . . lights slashing like kids'
sparklers on the Fourth, fluorescent yo-yos,
knife thrusts, stars, strobe-lit, pogosticking
straight at us, leapfrogging the ghostlier
Charolais, the wattled Santa Gertrudis
keening the darkness before us, while this
one, this buckaroo, chattered on about ghosts
without looking where we were pointing,
without looking, even once, even for us.

Kurt Heinzelman is a professor of English at The University of Texas at Austin. His published work in literary criticism and history has won awards from Choice (Outstanding Academic Book of the Year) and from the Keats-Shelley Association of North America; and his published poetry has won Pushcart Press recognition and the Borestone Mountain Poetry Award. He is also co-curator of the Blanton Poetry Project at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Thanks to Humanities Texas.

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