Friday, September 21, 2012

Kentucky Sketches

The borders between us are largely
an invention, though one can cross
from one state to the next and in
some way know the world has changed.

It is a particularly perplexing moment
when I realize that no roads end,
though one can be surprised by
sudden turns and the misplaced hayfield.

Rolling westward into Kentucky,
somewhere off of I-64, there is a
sudden vacancy in the road as a
bridge spans the most unusual

valley, a sharp and verdant V
anchored by what might be called a
river or an errant thought that drifts
across the blue hills and blue smoke

of this land. I turn off in favor of the
black post-and-board fences and
low-slung drystone walls, late-summer
flowers and tired tobacco barns.

These are farm and pasture lands,
not entirely devoid of surprise but
largely unaccustomed to it.
Even the trill of a warbler, slightly

out of season, tips the delicate balance
of slow time, as if it were embarrassed
by the momentary silence that follows;
an inappropriate laugh during a

serious lecture, the awkward applause
in the pause before a concerto is complete,
so that we are made to be aware

for an instant
of our presence.

c. 2012, Martin A. Bartels (working draft)
Part of my new collection, "Unlanguage."