Crag Hill until recently edited SCORE, one of only two journals in North America dedicated exclusively to concrete/visual poetry. In the last three decades his work has appeared in over 100 journals and anthologies, including several available on-line. His creative and critical works in progress can be found at http://scorecard.typepad.com. Hill currently teaches English Education at Washington State University.
Is behind me, is wet, is receding. Sagebrush, short grass, running up to alfalfa, irrigated fields barely fending off the inevitable. Is ahead of me, is wet, is approaching. Potato fields, asparagus, rows upon rows of grape vines, freshly cut hay, winnowed, drying.
Stout ponderosa pine grows taller and older than the hotel on whose grounds it stands. His shadow fuses pen and hand and chair into one. Pines barely sway; cottonwood rocks, leaves writhing. As setting sun blinds the lawn glows.
Remains of a barn collapsed inward, boards gray as soil. A row of eucalyptus trees scent the air thirty yards away. They’re building a video stage where the pool once stood, white primer drying on the cyclorama. His house, he the sole occupant for thirty years, needs painting, siding more mold than paint.
He doesn’t know the truth, sun’s straight up. He doesn’t know the beast where sun grows. He doesn’t know the mouth, moist, warm, no flowers leaning, filling. He doesn’t know the test where sun’s question is answered.
Rank and file of plastic bottles: an opened water bottle, mostly full, swallowed up by the milk bottle behind it, stout gallon jug undiminished by the half inch of milk spoiling at the bottom. They traced their car trip on a map, departing and returning routes bulging in the middle to converge at their destination and home. The summer’s not caught up with them yet, pansies, petunias, marigolds still thick and bright. She painted a figure on the pot, legs twice as long as arms, slowing down the dance.
Red bucket tipped on its side, empty except for glow of sun. It’s thinner, taller trees that talk most about wind today. Green foam ball in search of green bucket two feet away? Yellow rose cut back, gathering energy for a second bloom, dried petals blanketing its base.
Willows spill over the house. Morning glory and thistle, give ‘em an edge and they want more, sweeping over playground gravel. You have to share the bench – room for but one person – with two kinds of thistle, and even bindweed claims space. Someone left an empty bowl on the bench, shadow of spoon telling the wrong time.
Grain on the aluminum siding lies: shapes and textures gained in one industrial press, not whelped by weather over time. He never noticed the aspen before, skinny, strangled between two tight adjacent properties. Which came first, spider web spun from bench to flower pot or web of a violet pansy, the first one he’s ever seen? Blinded by that direction, that’s where he goes.
Near reflection, far reflection, none – diffusion, magnets on the refrigerator. Two sandals in lock-step, one going in the opposite direction, its partner veering left. Towel forms a snow-capped mountain over chair back, a swimsuit flung atop the peak, another suit and a pair of underwear drying in the foothills. In the children’s garden, sunflowers are taller than lupine going to seed.
Predominant colors edging driveway are green, half dozen variations of it, dull cement gray pushing them back. It makes more sense today than at any one time in the last year, floor swept. Mom’s bike rarely used, tires out of air; daughter’s bike, training wheels outgrown, scorned. No one to explain garage window’s half-inch screen, evening sun rushing through.