Sometimes you wish you hadn’t come back
to gaze upon this lake. But you drove over a
thousand miles from New England, and through
Nashville on a Saturday night, all your belongings
In the back of an Indian-green El Camino, to this
land of giant grasshoppers. Every one of them
chewing tobacco under the big sky. Herds of bison
startle your memory, and the moon follows you as
you stagger through honeysuckle vine and briars,
seeking a place flat enough to rest your head.
In the summer, you—like the rest of us—
catch them and let the brown sulphuric
juice drip through your fingers. In winter,
you can live on any you saved for leaner times;
there’s more than you know what to do with,
and wherever stridulation occurs musicians will
rise from the noisy ruins of tanker trucks: Reba.
Garth. And little Patti Page from up by Poteau.
Perhaps you. Broken styrofoam huddles at every shoreline
boasting more miles of it than any other state.
How is that even possible in the land-locked
and barren plain? For it’s all man-made, you see.
Lake upon lake to protect us from ever having
another dustbowl. Nothing is natural but the red
clay, the salt flats, and the secret bottomland
below the Kiamichi Mountains, not even your
mother’s heart which came off a frat boy when
he tried to fly and hit concrete below the waving
Oklahoma flag. We wouldn’t have survived without
federal interference, socialist troubadours, and
money oozing like molasses into every crevice,
so that no one is innocent; none have clean
hands. Every last one of us is sticky somewhere.
Yet you’re back, looking for your grandfather’s
name etched into some still-standing monument
made by the WPA or the CCC, the stories crossed
up in his last year but the eyes clear until the end.
You’ll find us here like the day you left us for points
north, here where genius cardiologists shake hands with
fishermen spitting into white cups; the jeweler’s wife,
with her famous soprano lilt, checks on the livestock
by means of a pair of two-bit binoculars, and both
airports are named for men who died in a single plane
crash. Stillwater. You’re here because you’re home.