Poem: ‘Wire’

Robin Robertson

In this bled landscape
wind moves through the desert bones,
fluting their white notes.

*

Wildfires sweep the hills,
jump the highways. Outside town
fence-posts are burning.

*

The guns go one way,
drugs go the other, over
the desert border.

*

There’s crystal meth, coke,
PCP, smack; after that
Tipp-Ex, gasoline.

*

In Juárez tonight
three decapitados hang
from the Bridge of Dreams.

*

The mystery lights
are lost souls on the border
crying out for home.

*

Mesquite and yucca,
lechuguilla, creosote
bush, Apache plume.

*

Reading tracks, cutting
for sign and finding nations:
people not our own.

*

The cave’s petroglyphs
are Apache: antelope,
deer, their children’s hands.

*

The cat rose and fell
on the feeding hummingbird,
tore its wings away.

*

The low moan at night
is the freight train; its sudden
hundred cars of noise.

*

He showed me the place:
La puerta, he said. Door.
There was nothing there.

*

A million acres
gone, under a flag of smoke,
border to border.

*

Cholla, prickly pear,
the night-blooming cereus,
the rare peyote.

*

The fenced dogs go mad
when they sense their wild cousin:
trickster, coyote.

*

The wilderness blooms
abruptly, into its own
tree of sand and blood.

*

When the road belches,
bellies like a breaching whale,
it’s an IED.

*

The coyote walks
through betrayal, grief, horror,
steps through fire and ice.

*

The Apache’s long
night-vision sees the runners
cross-haired: the white men.

*

The command comes through
as ghosts scribble the desert:
You’re clear to engage.

*

Pronghorn, jack-rabbit,
coyote, javelina,
skunk, mountain lion.

*

Coyotes running
people over the border
like sand through the wire.

*

Frontera, she said,
pointing in all directions.
There was nothing there.

*

On this empty road
there’s only Border Patrol
fingering their guns.

*

Drained water bottles,
the fence in the desert night;
human traces, ghosts.

*

Rifles and hand-guns
held by twenty-year-old boys
wearing five-point stars.

*

Nine points of the law.
Good fences make good neighbours.
Tell that to the dead.

*

Western diamond-back,
Mojave, prairie, black-tailed;
the still copperhead.

*

Only the sphinx moth
will find the evening primrose
and her nectary.

*

The dead jack-rabbit
has dried flat as wood, like a
Texas cricket bat.

*

I find Our Lady
of Guadalupe out there,
watching through the wire.

*

Only the eagle
moves in this heat, shimmering
in the blue thermals.

*

Covering my tracks
I have tied mesquite branches
to the horse’s tail.

*

These are just fences
and the fences are burning.
This is no-man’s-land.

*

See beyond the smoke,
see with the eyes of eagles:
this is no man’s land.

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