The Sunday Poem: Stefi Weisburd... Five Kinds of Weather Roll Across Texas

"Crazy good!" comes to mind describing this poem as it rolls through the Texas countryside. But that is not good enough. Weisburd throws up images that seem to rise from the horizon full of life, but somehow twisted by heat waves. In such a world, your eyes can play tricks on you.

Albuquerque poet Stefi Weisburd is the author of The Wind-Up Gods (Black Lawrence Press, 2007) which won the St. Lawrence Press Book Award and Barefoot: Poems for Naked Feet (Wordsong Press, 2008) for children. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, and Poetry, among others. She received a "Discovery"/The Nation prize and a Lannan Foundation writing residency. She volunteers at Explora and writes for Science News for Kids. The following poem was first published in the Gettysburg Review.

Five Kinds of Weather Roll Across Texas

Ignorant sky.
Dry clapboard towns that squat
empty in the stubble of combine-
swept cotton, baled
brilliant as cumulus in angry light, these
bundles on which field
hands have sprayed
black numbers, splotchy,
like rain-pounded dirt. I’m speeding
past and squinting until the bales resemble
Holsteins, placid, cudding in a nothing-living-
for-miles tableau, looking back at my red
truck zipping up the straight seam
of the world, watching me tip

into the horizon that replenishes itself
like a row of shark teeth. Dulled by the endless
drawl of prairie, I suddenly think
of Lapps in their bright colors, of white-gloved
North Korean girls directing imaginary
traffic in the rain. How I’d like
to be that weather or the sun
drawing shadows out of camels
crossing salt flats in Djibouti. Just as easily
I could be a Holstein, sluggish in the snow,
watching my modest
expectations zoom by at the speed
of red and thinking, What
was that Jewish Zen joke? Wherever

you go, there you are, but your luggage
is another story?
Every cow is a continent
to a tick, and National Geographic
confirms it, a whale shark is more a place
than a thing. I’m landscape too; a virus’s grainy
journey through the hill countries of my cells. Yes, speed
is one kind of question, but even
if I stood still in the short grass and mesquite, time
would travel like a front through my body,
so that when I cross
the road like that exhausted chicken, momentum
will open its ogre mouth and drop
me wet and cotton-swaddled on someone’s
doormat, right where I began.

Views: 144

Comment by Margaret Randall on May 23, 2010 at 8:04am
To my particular sensibility (and poetry is a place where sensibilities can differ wildly), this is one of the best poems Ditchrider has given us. Jokes rarely work inside poems. Here one does. But more importantly, this poem tell us all places and cultures are interesting, no matter how far or near to our heartland. The land of the heart, if only we will pay attention. Texas short grass and mesquite come alive here, just Lapps in bright colors or South Korean girls directing imaginary traffic in the rain. I love your ability to capture so much with such minimal strokes. Bravo!
Comment by Barelas Babe on May 23, 2010 at 10:34am
My uneducated poetry sensibilities may or may not map on to Margaret Randall's, but I completely agree that this poem strikes me as one of the best I've read here on DCF. Not only do I relish the cultural snippets, but the use of time and space here (time would travel like a front through my body) is brilliant. What a lovely Sunday morning gift.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on May 23, 2010 at 12:52pm
I LOVE the "red truck zipping up the straight seam of the world"--that just socks my knocks off. I love the happy look at haplessness--and along with Margaret, was delighted to find a joke in a poem! And so do I appreciate the lovely going back to the beginning again swaddled in cotton--the very cotton of fields--starting again-- a great poem--thought provoking. ditchrider reigns and reins in another fabulous construction or words. Thx Stefi
Comment by Georgia Santa-Maria on May 23, 2010 at 2:31pm
Wonderful--everything everybody else has said--me too! Love it.
Comment by cc on May 23, 2010 at 7:12pm
so that when I cross
the road like that exhausted chicken,

Very fun to read and good weaver of meaning.
Comment by Michael J aka Kirk C on May 24, 2010 at 7:41am
After being stuck in central Texas for 17 years, and desperately missing my fair New Mexico, I come to DCF to GET AWAY from images of Texas!! Excellent poetry but I'd rather read about bluer skies, and mesas and canyons and raging rivers and drums that you feel in your feet and real green chili enchiladas... Cranky Monday, I guess.....


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