Monday, September 20, 2010

Eastern Washington

This poem is from a trip I made from Seattle when I was living in the USA for a year.  Many years ago, now, but the words bring it all back. I was a young woman, shy, a foreigner, married to someone I didn't love. New Zealand, home, happiness - all seemed very far away.

Eastern Washington

Rattlesnake country, they said -
harsh, sterile outlines of land,
and at earliest morning
the heat palpable.

Driving from the coast
we had watched the sun rise,
and caught a white glimpse
of Rainier,
over another mountain's shoulder;
had passed through the Cascades
(high, ragged peaks,
greenness of tree and lake,
fertile, water-lush,)
into this desert, sun-dried place.

We had to carry the boat
the last half-mile
to the tiny, struggling lake;
insects dry-hasped their songs around us,
and I could taste the dryness,
dust in the sun's mouth.

Rattlesnake country, they said.

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