Thursday, September 22, 2005

postcard: more wyoming

Wyoming lasted a long time.

It was Wyoming when it should have been something else, was something else, was: was the moon, was Tunisia, was not on the earth.

On my way out of town, I looked for the place where Matthew was killed, for a cross, a wreath, a marker, but there was nothing, only miles and miles of snow fence, of antelope, of yellow stone, of sky.

Then the lone coyote, my first, standing at the edge of a field of antelope, on a hill, looking off the crest of it, down the road, in the distance, ears pricked, body tense, waiting for his time.

On the road out of Wyoming, I see jackrabbits or hares. Many magpies, their white underwings, in the air and on the ground.
I forgot to mention marmites, fluffy gray creatures who poke their heads out of stones, who peer up at my camera, so like fat groundhogs, my absolute favorite animal. My totem animal, a friend said, because I see them everywhere, look for them standing, guardians of highways. Once one followed me home.

In Wyoming, a tumbleweed skitters under my tires. It is fast and thin, brittle, brown, smaller than I would have expected, and so quick. It is not like a tumbleweed at all. It is like the skeleton of a snowflake, the model of an atom my brother would make in elementary science class.

It terrifies me. I think I have killed something. I scream, and then I see pieces behind me, scattered in the mirror.

Hi honey, the woman behind the register says when I come in the door. Everyone--meaning men in the diesel line---turns. I buy my gas and my gum and my postcards.

Do me a favor, honey, the woman says. Be careful out there.

I will, I promise.

I see a gold eagle. It is pointed out to me, swooning, close.

Most people go through their whole lives without seeing what you’ve seen, he says.

I have made a promise. I get in my car and go.