The new road runs along the old road. I can see it still imprinted on the earth, not twenty feet away as I drive west past silos and farmsteads, fruit stands and hogs. Once in Kansas, I stood in a field and watched the stars on the horizon revolve around my ankles. People are always moving, even those standing still because the world keeps changing around them, changing them. When will the cities meet? When will they spread until there is a single city—avenue to avenue, coast to coast? What we call “the country” is an undeveloped area by the side of the road. There is no “country,” there is no “road.” It’s one big National Park, no longer the wilderness it was. But the old world exists under the present world the way an original painting exists under a newer one. The animals know: their ancient, invisible trails cross and re-cross our own like scars that have healed long ago. Their country is not our country but another place altogether. Anything of importance there comes out of the sky. In Amarillo the wind tries to erase everything, even the future. It swoops down to scrape the desert clean as a scapula. Here among bones and bleached arroyos the sun leans through my window at dawn to let me know I’m not going anywhere. There’s no more anywhere to go.
The Ear is an Organ Made for Love by E. Ethelbert Miller
It was the language that left us first. The Great Migration of words. When people spoke they punched each other in the mouth. There was no vocabulary for love. Women became masculine and could no longer give birth to warmth or a simple caress with their lips. Tongues were overweight from profanity and the taste of nastiness. It settled over cities like fog smothering everything in sight. My ears begged for camouflage and the chance to go to war. Everywhere was the decay of how we sound. Someone said it reminded them of the time Sonny Rollins disappeared. People spread stories of how the air would never be the same or forgive. It was the end of civilization and nowhere could one hear the first notes of A Love Supreme. It was as if John Coltrane had never been born.