Poetry Sunday: In Texas

If you've ever traveled the roads in the vast empty spaces of West Texas, this poem may resonate with you.

In Texas
by May Sarton

In Texas the lid blew off the sky a long time ago
So there's nothing to keep the wind from blowing
And it blows all the time. Everywhere is far to go
So there's no hurry at all, and no reason for going.
In Texas there's so much space words have a way
Of getting lost in the silence before they're spoken
So people hang on a long time to what they have to say;
And when they say it the silence is not broken,
But it absorbs the words and slowly gives them
Over to miles of white-gold plains and gray-green hills,
And they are part of that silence that outlives them.
Nothing moves fast in Texas except the windmills
And the hawk that rises up with a clatter of wings.
(Nothing more startling here than sudden motion,
Everything is so still.) But the earth slowly swings
In time like a great swelling never-ending ocean,
And the houses that ride the tawny waves get smaller
As you get near them because you see them then
Under the whole sky, and the whole sky is so much taller
With the lid off than a million towers built by men.
After a while you can only see what's at horizon's edge,
And you are stretched with looking so far instead of near,
So you jump, you are startled by a blown piece of sedge;
You feel wide-eyed and ruminative as a ponderous steer.
In Texas you look at America with a patient eye.
You want everything to be sure and slow and set in relation
To immense skies and earth that never ends. You wonder why
People must talk and strain so much about a nation
That lives in spaces vaster than a man's dream and can go
Five hundred miles through wilderness, meeting only the hawk
And the dead rabbit in the road. What happens must be slow,
Must go deeper even than hand's work or tongue's talk,
Must rise out of the flesh like sweat after a hard day,
Must come slowly, in its own time, in its own way.

May Sarton was the pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton (May 3, 1912 - July 16, 1995), an American poet, memoirist, and novelist. She was born in Belgium but her family moved to Boston in 1915 and she lived in the United States for the rest of her life. She was a prolific writer of poetry, fiction and nonfiction.


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