The Town of Hoxie

Five hours west into high plains
the Sand Hills break against sky
like frozen surf. Fossilized backbones
of dinosaurs appear like half-finished giants.
White road stripes are spaced like vertebrae.

I arrive in Hoxie as the snow begins.
Two highways cross here. Cattle trucks pass
and pickups with gunracks. In a diner
men wear muddy rubber boots that reach
to the thigh. The pies are homemade
and the lettuce sent from Denver.

Later a friend tells me "Hoxie"
means "drunk" in Choctaw, but
I am sober when I read the menu.
Fresh Ostrich Steaks. From a Ranch
in WaKeeney
. The waitress asks
if I want it rare or well done. Outside
the window panes clouds fall into the street.

On the way home fog descends, the solvent
of distance. Chunks of white sky hit
my face. The last road is a snow river
with no bridges. On either side lie wrecks
of old monsters, hulls of metal or bone.
I move among them.

–Denise Low, Lawrence


May 12, 1999 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas /

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