[from Timothy Steele’s After Sapphics and Other Uncertainties: Poems 1970-1986]
Out over these parched, gusty plains,
Loose dirt is lifted to a sail;
Beyond wide distances, a train’s
Smoke draws a horizontal trail.
Posts bear a wire, mile after mile,
Across deep views toward which winds roll,
That wire the only obstacle
Between the winds and the North Pole.
Here one could drive what seems an age,
Seeing no more than levelled land
And, on the road, slow-skidding sage
And skating shapes of wind-blown sand.
Here one could try the radio's dial
And, as the inching needle slips
Through far, infrequent static, feel
A stilled world at the fingertips.
And one might sense nothing but thirst
Or soundless hours in this place
Where all horizons are dispersed
Continuously into space.
Yet from caked, crumbly ground and rocks
The spiky purple lupines grow
And cacti shaped like tuning forks.
And some who've crossed such precincts know
The prudent heart is like these plains,
Where quietness has grown immense,
No landmarks rendering its terrains
Measurable to human sense,
And where, remote of any tree,
The sky is an inclusive drift
Of radiance chastening, endlessly,
Needless invention, needless thrift.
Sapphics and Uncertainties: Poems 1970-1986