It all seemed almost like my own, that was true. But as early romance gave way to marriage, I realized that it is one thing to be from somewhere, to know it by heart, and another to adopt a place or have it chosen for you. My marriage chose Atlanta for me, and I was then adopted by my husband’s many circles of friends. Yet until our last year or so there, though, I had an indistinct feeling of being on the outside looking in — someone who belonged more by association than creed.
By sheer will, I managed to remain horizontal, feet obediently planted firmly on the wall of rock. While gaining a small victory over the battle waging within, I remembered the young girl who was dangling on a rope beside me. Surely, she must be terrified. To be helpless, at the mercy of another, and to be unable to see seemed unimaginable. She was completely vulnerable.
Yet she was smiling. And laughing.
I glanced behind me and ached for the desert — a landscape in which things and maybe people, too, thrust deeper roots into the rocky earth in order to survive. It is a land teeming with earth-toned life, as though wildness found just enough water to scratch color onto the earth’s skin only to have the sun bleach it out again. Struggle is its tradition, baked under the scorching sun in a massive sky, seasoned with diverse cultures in providential collision. The history of the land unfurls into the present like the deep fuchsia blossoms of a White Sands cactus. I didn’t like this arid landscape much until after I left.
Pulling a notepad out of your pocket
bent with sitting, grimy and dog-eared
your pencil at the ready, you tumbled
like a bear out of the cab, writing as you ran
Toward the lamb just being born
toward the godly miracle of it, toward the sun