There was a dirt field I’d walk to as a girl,
past the convenience store and the train tracks
where the day laborers congregated with six-packs,
where the two-lane road turned to one lane with yellow stripes
and the vacant field loomed like a desiccated fallen sky.
That’s where I’d go to sit on an oblong rock
until prairie dogs sprouted from tunnels underground
and the ground became a fabric
stitched by fluid lines of ants.
And though barely perceptible,
if I waited long enough,
the world would begin its shallow breathing,
the soundless wind’s only duty in that field
to rearrange a few grains of sand
while the smell of hot dust grew sharp in the nose.
I waited. I don’t know for what.
Sometimes I’d sit so long the sun would sink,
a fiery stare blinking shut beneath the horizon,
and the drooping electric wires would borrow the dark
until the dark seeped back into the sky. And when stars
surfaced like needles piercing through velvet,
I’d hold myself back just a moment more.
What made me feel watched in the naked field?
I was paying close attention and could discern only
a begging to be cloaked and a begging to be released.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.