Last night Oz invited me to read poetry at his annual dinner which gathers the practitioners and scientists, manufacturers and visionaries who are at the forefront of alternative energy in Texas. Since these are the people in our part of the world whose work in the next decade will change how we conceive of and use energy, it is fascinating to spend time with them, and an honor to be the poet in the house.
Actually, there were several poets in the house. Talking to one of them (Cliff Etheredge) after the program I remembered this poem I wrote in the early 80s about West Texas and the first Wind Farm Oz and Jay built in Pampa. I'm pretty sure the video above is Cliff's wind farm in Roscoe, TX.
Where I grew up there were four elements, seed stayed where you planted it, earth was deep, black, moist and stayed down — where it belongs. In West Texas, on the Caprock, earth, air, fire and water blow around together in vast confounding walls of wind. It howls through window glass and comes up through cracks in the floor. Wind, the old people say it has a nasty breath, they say you know you been in a wind if there’s no paint left on your car, if you got sand between your teeth, under your tongue and on the backs of your eyeballs, if you want to inhale water, or stay in bed all day with a paper sack over your head. Wind, it blows through your ears and makes you crazy. You’d swear you’re on another planet. At night the stars come down so close the Milky Way sloughs layers of solar dust on children sleeping, makes them wild. You wonder how the farmers know whose land will bear their seed. Women, men, children and even pets move slant to the ground. Sparkling eyes and jokes blare out from dust like miracles, nothing is like it seems. There is one town called — Earth. The rest is alien. Space ships land there often. Almost everyone has seen one. They say the Caprock is a magnet. In the middle of Earth is a sign that says: Shop Earth. One man from Pampa rents the wind from his cousin and sells power to the electric company. People say he’s so crazy that he might be brilliant. They say his cousin is no fool either.
©Susan Bright, 1980
from Atomic Basket, InBetween Books (1985)
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-ninety books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
Song by Butch Hancock performed by Joe Ely.
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