By Will Cordeiro
I study the atlas. Our GPS has lost its signal. Glare along the dash. My partner at the wheel. A rush of green. We swerve the mountain roads, a valley sweeps below us. The summer morning, a palpable expanse, comes bracing in our bones.
We must have taken a wrong turn at Springerville, near the border with New Mexico. We don’t realize this until we reach Alpine, about thirty miles on, where a man watering flowers in cattle-rustler duds redirects us to make a left at Reserve and another left at Apache Creek. I ask him if Apache Creek is a town. “Town?” He considers this. “It’s a settlement,” he finally concedes. When we pass Apache Creek, it’s nothing more than a general store on the corner—a homesteader A-frame that looks shuttered. By guesswork with the map, I figure it’s another hour to Quemado. It dawns on us, we just lost an additional hour because Arizona doesn’t obey daylight savings. We signed up over six months ago for this trip by an automated message delivered at the stroke of midnight. Now we’re in danger of being late, missing the whole adventure. The roads corkscrew around the bluffs and cirques.
My partner Megan and I are headed for Walter De Maria’s land-art installation, The Lightning Field. Any journey to The Lightning Field involves a pilgrimage since De Maria selected the least populated area of New Mexico for his installation. “Isolation,” he wrote, “is the essence of land art.”
We pull the car up to a nondescript whitewashed adobe office building right at the appointed two o’clock, our detour be damned. I walk in. It’s empty. I step out the door into the high desert glare. Next to us is another couple who just arrived, Aubrey and Carter. They got a call a few days ago as backups after someone cancelled at the last minute. Aubrey’s a tall, short-cropped blonde; Carter is more reticent, harder to read behind his sunglasses, his beard, and his bucket hat. We exchange pleasantries. “Where you guys from?”
“Marfa,” Carter says.
“Marfa?” I ask. “I hear that’s a pretty hip little town, huh?”
“Yeah, we have a lot going on,” Aubrey says, “for a town of around two thousand. I work for an art foundation there.”
“The Donald Judd place?” I’m eager to show I’m not a rube, even though these people are from a small town in Texas.
“That’s it.” Aubrey says. “The Chinati Foundation.”
“You ever see the Marfa lights?” I ask, referring to the strange orbs rumored to appear at the edge of town. I’m not a big Judd fan. I find minimalism rather boring. Keep the banter affable, I remind myself.
“Not yet. But I know a few people who have,” she says.
“Well, we better go grab lunch,” I say, cutting off the small talk before I embarrass myself or reveal my curmudgeonly streak. We’ll be staying with these folks in the cabin, after all.
Megan and I run over to the gas station next door to scrounge up anything edible from the junk food on the racks; when we return, we see our friend Chris, who drove from Albuquerque to meet us, outside the office. We hug, catch up. By this time Robert Weathers is chatting with Aubrey and Carter in the Dia office. A lanky sixty-something rancher with a face of sun-worn leather, he isn’t the trendy art-world intern I was expecting. Turns out he helped erect the poles as a gangly teen; he built the cabin and remains in charge of general upkeep. We throw our packs in the trunk of his SUV. We still have an hour’s drive to the site, give or take.
“You’re not gonna blindfold us?” I ask Robert half in jest as we start to ride off.
“Nope. I drive fast enough it’ll all be a blur,” he quips.
The exact location of the site is supposed to remain something of a mystery. That way it won’t attract curiosity seekers who want to check it off their bucket lists without committing to the immersive experience. De Maria insisted that visitors stay at least twenty-four hours. The conditions of encountering the work require coming to terms with parameters of duration and space. It’s an enforced confrontation with the work, the place, the spirit of isolation: the essence of this art will only reveal itself over time. Revelation’s not a blink of lightning. It’s half a lifetime spent preparing for it.
I munch on a bag of peanuts as the XM radio quietly plays The Dixie Chicks, Waylon Jennings, Shania Twain. Everyone’s silent, observing the contours of the mountain range that frames the horizon or the sparse herds of reddish cattle in the distance. We settle in, scan the ranchland and fields dotted with rabbit brush, juniper, and piñnon, each member of the group anxious and tentative, hesitant to broach any subject among strangers.
“Boy, you’re all a talkative bunch,” Robert deadpans.
Chris, riding shotgun, asks if many celebrities visit.
“Some,” Robert says.
Chris leans in, waiting for gossip.
“I don’t recognize many of ’em,” Robert admits. “I only know ‘cause a lot will tell you they’re famous.”
“Who’s the biggest name?” Chris inquires.
“Well,” Robert says, “Steve Martin likes it up here.”
“Does he bring his banjo?” Chris asks.
“His dog and wife, too,” Robert offers.
We soon fall back into silence, mesmerized by the landscape, anticipating our first real glimpse of this artwork. Everything I’ve read claims that no photos can do it justice. The long drive lulls us into a stupor. We swerve onto a dirt road, then another, cross cattle guards, rumble along past fields of golden, wind-tipped buffelgrass, and crest a hill. The road narrows a bit; the patches of juniper grow denser. A juvenile elk jumps out in front of us. A big awkward beast, considerably more solid than a deer, it kicks up, startled, bounding the fence on the other side of the road where it joins a few others of its ilk before we recognize what happened. We escaped a collision. We’re more alert, on edge for something to reveal itself—anything could leap out, materialize, make its presence known.
A nervy tension hangs in the air for a half hour. Finally, we nose around a bend and up a blind hill to a plateau. We see tiny silhouettes thin as spider’s legs scattered in the dusty chaparral. They look like toothpicks, no more substantial or imposing. As mundane as telephone poles. Chris points out the window and glances back at me as if to ask, “That’s it?”
Clearly, we’re both underwhelmed.
“Here we are,” Robert declares, pulling the Suburban up to a weather-beaten homesteader. He gives us the two-minute tour of the premises, shows us the landline in case of an emergency. We drag in our bags and sort out who has which bedroom. “Ok, well, if there’s not any questions, Kathy will pick you up at eleven tomorrow,” Robert says.
“You know a rain dance to conjure up a storm?” Aubrey asks before Robert leaves. Robert grimaces, his crow’s feet fretting when he smiles underneath his Stetson. The sky is clear—assuredly, incorrigibly azure. It’s the color of glass in Turkish amulets that ward off the evil eye. Generally, the higher the altitude and the more arid the terrain, the bluer the atmosphere. This spot’s at seven thousand two hundred feet and gets eleven inches of annual rainfall. A few dove-white piles of cumuli hover due east over the vast plains. I imagine these clouds are gargantuan ruins of classical statuary afloat in the planetary amnion. Stillborn fragments spewed from originating chaos. I gaze out from the porch, abandoned to the vast space as Robert drives away.
Aubrey and Carter go to their room while I decide to trek the grounds with Chris and Megan. We head straight out from the cabin into the grid of poles. The field consists of sixteen rows of twenty-five poles, each one of the four hundred polished stainless-steel poles two inches in diameter, aligned equidistant two hundred twenty feet apart by means of surveyor’s laser within one twenty-fifth of an inch to create a rectangle exactly five thousand two hundred eighty feet by three thousand three hundred feet. The poles’ height, however, varies between twenty-six feet, nine inches, and fifteen feet. Each pole is calibrated so as to “balance an invisible sheet of glass” on the tips of each pole, varying with the subtle undulations of topography. The poles will only attract an electrical charge within two hundred feet. While lightning might fork and splinter as it comes down, it won’t skip along the tips from spire to spire. These facts and many other specifications on construction are found in De Maria’s statement about the piece, which is included in a laminated spiral-bound book inside the cabin. Despite including such rigorous measurements, a bolded admonition at the top of the statement declares: “The sum of the facts does not constitute the work or determine its esthetic.”
We hike out to the end of the row. Our heads in the weeds, we arrive sooner than we’d bargained. About ten minutes have passed. We stare at the last pole, solid and gleaming. A material fact. A banal tube of metal. We look at it, this dull singularity. We each give it an absentminded, glum once-over. After a pause, Megan says, “You know, it looks like a stripper pole.”
We tell Chris about our trip to Portland a couple weeks ago. At the vegan strip club one of the dancers lifted weights with her pierced labia. Megan straddles a leg around the pole and pretends to ride it like a hobbyhorse as Chris snaps a picture with his phone despite the strict no-photos policy. Chris asks if I’ll pole dance. I inchworm up the mast until I’m about seven or eight feet up. I feel it wobble. I’ll later learn each pole is anchored by three thousand pounds of Portland cement, but at the moment I’m worried it’ll tumble over. How would we explain that to Robert? I slither down with all the grace of a burly fireman.
We look at each other dumbfounded. We’re stuck here for a whole day. We canvass our surroundings. Not only the artwork but the landscape is minimalist. Scanning the horizon, we make out an old wooden windmill poking up from the next ranch over. We’re about to walk towards it when, squinting, we realize a fence separates us. We look around again—there’s not much else. Megan points southeast where the meadow appears to drop off into a small canyon. “Let’s see what’s over there,” she says hopefully. We trudge across the clods and thistle. Anthills, globe mallow. Pincushion and paddle cactus. We spot horny toads scurrying in the brush. Our backs turned to the installation, we relax a bit. Megan unzips her pack, and we each pop a tallboy of Miller Lite.
Nearly two miles out, we come to barbwire. Across the meadow, there doesn’t seem to be a canyon anyway, just a slight depression. An illusion of depth fostered by a smudge of cloud shadow. We sip our beers, gingerly leaning against the fence posts. Chris tells us he needs to reapply for his position at the hospital since the grant which funded his position expired; his job could officially end on his birthday. Megan talks about leading questions on her application for a tech start-up. I gripe about the corporatization of academia. Hemmed in, bored, our workaday anxieties manifest in full. We kvetch and yammer as a way to bond. We finish our beers.
Walking back toward the far-off cabin, Chris says, “Hey, where are the poles?”
“Yeah,” I agree, “I can’t see them, either. They’ve disappeared.”
We march closer, almost a mile by Chris’s Fitbit, and still we can’t see any poles. They’ve vanished amid the glare and scintillations reflected from the field. Or maybe each sliver of pole hides between the sunbeams pouring down from overhead. Haze distorts the air clear out to the gemlike facets of the peaks which encompass the valley. A slight wind picks up. Grama grass velvets crosswise, darkening against the grain. Tremors warp above the horizon line. A couple poles glint like fireflies seen through enveloping glades. Something quickens. I’m starting to see. Rather, I’ve permitted myself to see, which has only shown me how blind I really am.
“The invisible is real,” De Maria states. We don’t see objects, after all, but the light reflected from them. Then again, we don’t see light; light allows us to see. All vision is hallucinatory. What we call seeing results from a transfer of energy from sun to object, eye to mind. The energy is relayed along a complex biochemical route through our neurons, which convert wavelengths somehow into texture, edge, depth of field. Color is not a fundamental property, but a relational one that depends on interpretations of various context cues. So many assumptions are made below the level of consciousness—think, for example, of that infamous photo of the dress, black and blue or white and gold. I wonder if the artwork is, if not constituted by its facts, instead constituted by a relationally between object and subject: the wholistic unfolding of such relations. The mind turns back on its own subjectivity as that subjectivity is revealed by the rifts in its vantage on the variable manifold it posits as the object. The work, then, is perhaps the process of these reciprocal workings out.
The vanishing poles are not an effect produced by a particularly hazy day, my personal myopia, or some other quirk of circumstance. De Maria stipulates in the laminated fact sheet that “at mid-day 70-90 percent of the poles become virtually invisible due to the high angle of the sun.” It’s not a bug, it’s a feature that the poles etherealize. Geoff Dyer aptly describes this specter: “[I]t is probably only in retrospect, once we understood that their being invisible was part of their function, that we knew they were there.” What does one of these lightning rods even look like? Silvery, shadowy, bright, invisible? How do all these different perceptions cohere? The field becomes a meditation in which ultimately the poles don’t disappear so much as you do. The self is an illusion; it sponsors not verities but reveries. Our seeming coherence is a delirium. Our phantoms flicker and melt and project their own ghostly shapes onto a floating world. The poles are stable, fixed; our perception of them is anything but. And consequently, one glimpses an image of one’s own wax-like mutability in their play of light, the self’s elfin quicksilver.
De Maria’s installation is a meticulous grid, though the coordinates of this rational matrix are nowhere visible from any human vantage point. Every position of the viewer reveals a different configuration. Walking in the field offers a perspectival flux, a kaleidoscope wherein the eye is the revolving part. Sometimes the poles fan away toward a vanishing point, other times they crowd in rows, obscure each other, or seem unevenly dispersed. Even a bird’s-eye view from Google Earth fails to turn up the plotted layout; instead the points become impossible to discern against the wide expanse of dirt and shrubs.
The scale is both human and exceeds the human. The entire quantified and calibrated matrix becomes negated. The rational system that has been imposed dissolves. Instead, from within the field, each point offers its own focal distance, its own arrangement, possibilities, relationships. One can stand in front of a pole so that the entire row is perfectly hidden behind it, and then, with a simple tilt of one’s head, the distant poles unfurl like dancers in a Busby Berkeley chorus line. In one sense, the installation is fence posts without a fence, opening out, bounding nothing, continually repositioned toward new freedoms. The poles become a forest in which the singular tree is lost, ground and field exchanged. De Maria writes that “the land is not the setting for the work but a part of the work.” He spent years searching throughout the entire Southwest for this perfect patch of nowhere, of nothingness.
As I sit on the porch with Megan while Chris naps, the barren ecosystem gradually teems with life. Several whirlwinds of mating butterflies—viceroys and tiny whites—flourish on the air. A cottontail family emerges from under the porch steps. Rabbit eyes glimmer at me; they scurry around, munch tufts of grass, frolic with each other, raise up on their hind legs, hop away. A large black beetle slowly rows through an ant path. Birdsongs trill and whistle, titter, shriek. A lizard streaks across the rocky ground. Half an hour passes in a flash. My attentiveness is being restored, like eyes adjusting to the dark. I see two figures grazing near the perimeter of the field. I can’t tell if they are cattle or mule deer. They’re too small for elk. They approach closer, following the footpath.
We grow intensely quiet, Megan and I. The two creatures are between us and the nearest pole. They are close enough now that I recognize them as pronghorn. The male canters forward, startles, stares out, his voided eyes like soft black stars. He twitches his ears. He nuzzles the ground, feasts on the sun. Each radiant lance. He moves off, followed by the female. They step across this bright, this brittle field. They browse the scrub. They’re gone.
The animals, the pronghorn especially, feel conjured by the energy of the poles’ magnetic aura. A strange occult vision that’s made manifest and then vanishes again. Neither a presence nor an absence, which leaves one inarticulate in the face of wonder. Of course, everything I saw was utterly commonplace. Simply native fauna going about their business. It’s just that all the clicks and metrics—the busyness of my day—have now fallen to the wayside. The best art adjusts our modes of perception not so that we can apprehend the formal beauty in the work itself, but rather so that, afterward, we can train it to attend to the erstwhile unfathomed splendor all around us. When I finally check my watch, I’ve spent over two hours simply looking.
“The light is as important as the lightning,” De Maria claims.
The poles are rumored to produce an eerie hum during high winds. At other times, when the air is particularly charged with electric current, they might emit what is known as St. Elmo’s fire, a lilac glow produced by plasma discharge seeking equilibrium with the electrons around it. According to an article in Scientific American, St. Elmo’s fire occurs when “the voltage tears apart the air molecules because of the difference in charge between the ground and air,” and protons are pulled away from electrons, forming corona discharges at the tips where the charge is greatest, which effloresce with light. Scientists don’t know if St. Elmo’s fire is related to ball lightning, a similar phenomenon that until recently was thought to be an old wives’ tale, because frankly they don’t know what ball lightning is yet. But lab tests and recent film footage now indicate that ball lightning’s strange floating orbs are real.
I begin to see that light is a type of lightning, too. Light is not that which reveals the world, but a revelation. We walk in the paths of its striking. Lightning is the little leaps that everywhere disclose the visible.
The Lightning Field is a landscape composed of material objects, which we might term both natural and manmade; is the field of vision itself; the sparks of light activating on the rods and cones; is the brain, electric skipping between the charged poles of synapses to create the tissue of consciousness; is a call for divinity to touch us—the poles reaching up not unlike Adam’s finger in the Sistine Chapel. The Lightning Field is none of these. It is the result and organization of these various elements and, more eerily, the gaps in their alignment. It is the paradox of their commensuration. Each gap—between eye and vision, nerve and mind, human reason and divinity—must be filled in by something akin to the cosmic or supernatural. From such hinterlands, foresight. The lightning is inside us, is without. The edge between the two dissolves. Light strips and quivers. Cripples and refracts.
As if light evolved the eye to see itself.
The sun hangs low. It’s slipping down, hovering beyond the peaks.
After convening for an enchilada dinner, we all go back outside for the hour before sunset. The sunlight at magic hour, as filmmakers call it, suffuses the plain, turns the grass diaphanous. The pointed tips of each silver blade ignite. The spires look like birthday candles. The sun sinks down further.
Megan and I wander off on our own. We spin around the maypoles. The whole sky turns with our pivot. We stop and the earth moves counter to us. Dizzy, our vision reeling, we head toward a small clearing; we step over fireweed, deer droppings. In the low-lying meadow we discover a bone. A sun-bleached femur, probably from a coyote—a talisman. Exact and cleansed, each pebble gleaming, each thing reduced to what it is. Sun dropping westerly over the ridge, the poles come into focus, effloresce at dusk, vivid and spectral. The poles flare golden one moment, then evanesce, molten and mercurial. Each stands alone in its own burning. The next instance, a thin, red laser beam runs down their centers. As if every possible field were a panorama of extravagant vanishing. These numerous, these numinous masts—the mind sailing in its refuge of light. It’s taken the whole day for the day to take.
Then suddenly, the candles are snuffed out. The sun’s penumbra goes under the rim. The day collapses.
It’s not the thunderbolt from heaven that forks down into divination. No, light itself is divine energy. It permeates, ubiquitous, a continual interchange. Blood-pulse, brain-cloud, twinkling azimuth. A metamorphosis, like the inspiration of each breath. The sun gone, now the stars begin shining from beyond. And the kingdom of heaven is within you, too. This radiation enkindling us. Atoms of energy, tiny starbursts of elemental substance, compose the field of consciousness by their exchange of scintilla, each one reciprocally bringing into being every other in a play of transfigurations.
You change and it changes and it changes you.
I’ve never seen the moon this ghastly bright. Carter stares in awe as Jupiter glazes, winks. The first few watery stars semaphore some urgent, inspissated message. We sip more beer on the porch, we chat. Insects skitter on the bulbs. Megan points out the Big Dipper. De Maria’s poles have faded again, but the dome of night becomes its own blue field where the stars throw down their spears. Each star alone in its own far orbit. Dark, remote, the universe is scattered with other worlds and satellites. Aubrey and Carter retire early. The rest of us talk a little, drink a nightcap, head off to bed.
I’m awakened by the sun. It comes directly in my east-facing window. I step out on the porch and its whelm and thrall washes out the dawn in pastels of blue, sherbet orange, a pink like the nacre inside a shell. There is a newfound clarity to the field. I can count every pole down the entire row. Some gleam while others in shadow. The whole arrangement’s like a bed of nails. I’m cranky and stiff. Still in my jammies, tousle-haired and sleep-encrusted. I take my waking slow. Thankfully, someone has put on a pot of coffee. Megan makes us all eggs. I wash up then scarf a hearty breakfast—an egg tortilla, toast, a glass of OJ, another cup of coffee, and a bowl of cornflakes. Conspicuously, none of us talk about art, though Aubrey says she’d give us the tour if we ever came to Marfa. It’s almost eight o’clock. Our time at the cabin is coming to a close. Kathy, the other caretaker, will arrive at eleven. A trek around the perimeter path is supposed to take two hours.
Chris finishes getting up, and the three of us walk the path, counterclockwise. There’s a shift between phantasm and solidity. The poles seem firm this morning, the landscape less real, as if it could evaporate. Heatwaves roil the distance, a quixotic liquid where the ground gives way to air. An unsettled wavering toward the silhouettes of the Sawtooth Mountains. Gazing at the gloss and sheen along the steel rods, I recall a couple lines from “Song of Myself”:
Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.
Heliotropic, we rise to the sun; we cast forth the many suns inside us like our seed, like a blowsy dandelion head. The body has strange metabolic powers, an index and sympathy with the things around it.
I look over the poles, their tips like fibers in a vast tapestry, and remember how the carpet in our new home is always causing little inadvertent static shocks whenever Megan or I touch each other.
Halfway through our walk, directly across from the cabin, we again encounter the pair of pronghorn. They stand unafraid, regal, alert, so close we can see their breathing. We all grow very still and quiet. We acknowledge the animals’ gazes, each other’s apprehension, one species seeing across and perhaps partway into another. But this is not a trespass but a threshold, a place where our regard allows each animal that incommunicable moment to bridge whatever differences our biology might present. We are alike conscious beings occupying this ground. We are alike infused, suspended in such a mood, with what used to be termed the genius loci, the spirit of the place.
The pronghorn lower their heads to graze. We move on. We glance down the alleys made between poles which, as we navigate their boundary, forever recompose into new gestalts and forking paths. We peer into the varmint holes that riddle the field. A tiny lizard flickers down one, disturbed by our motion. Soon we see a jackrabbit poking up through thistle and vegetation. Backlit, the sun illuminates the blood in its ears. It approaches us along the trail, advancing within a dozen yards, then raises up on its haunches. We stare at each other for a good minute. In this encounter, however, I sense a terror—not the rabbit’s but my own. I take a step back. Megan laughs at me. I claim, “I’m afraid it might be a little rabid.” A joke; an excuse? Really, my terror is due to something more akin to the sublime. The sense that the architecture of the universe is infinite, is unknown to us, and thereby any part of it could be extinguished at any moment, or could extinguish us, despite the armature of our rationalizations to the contrary, our habitual obliviousness. The jackrabbit is a fellow being, and being is a terrifying, inexplicable concept.
Later on, after rounding the corner, Megan tries to capture a horny toad and it scampers into gnarled brush. “I probably gave it a heart attack,” she says.
“Yeah,” I agree, “what if something that much bigger chased you? Say, a brontosaur?”
“I’d probably die.”
When we return to the cabin, we hurriedly pack as Kathy should arrive in twenty minutes to drive us back to Quemado. We scan the field one last time. I squint into the vague middle distance. The shine is gone, and the poles are being sucked up into their own shadows, tapering into thin air. The throng already folding up into recollection.
The ride back is a blur, the poles flickering past for a half mile along stretches of scrub. The valley is bounded by older, rounded peaks and more recent jagged outcroppings. The uplands have turned lavender in the noonday, the wide country a fecund sage. We round a few corners, arrive back to the Dia office, say some hasty goodbyes to Aubrey and Carter. We never learned much about them. The place was quiet-making.
We drive east as far as Pietown with Chris for lunch. A twenty-minute drive, Pietown is no misnomer. The town, population one hundred eighty-six, has no less than three cafes that all serve an assortment of home-baked pies. The town also hosts an annual pie festival in September. We grab a bite at the Pietown Cafe and of course each have a slice. Mine has granny apples, piñon nuts, and green chiles, while Chris and Megan both opt for the rhubarb.
The cafe has wireless. Chris thumbs on his phone for a good bit of our meal after his twenty-four-hour cyber purge. The phone is a like a lightning rod, I think, a mechanism to channel the impulses flickering in the atmosphere around us, an atmosphere which contains a floating library—of which this essay is now a part. We can tune in to it with the right equipment, but it’s otherwise imperceptible.
Driving over the golden pastureland of rolling hills and mesas beyond the town of Omega, a dust devil spirals a bevy of tumbleweed; they levitate and cavort upward. The landscape changes quickly. Soon we’re in the sunshot plains near Petrified Forest, warped strata of purple badlands and scattered boulders. The daylight lets down its hair from a few rumpled clouds on the horizon. Cumuli hover above the vast remote expanse. Heat ripples on the asphalt in front of us, a barren wilderness that starts at the soft shoulder.
We make one stop before coming home to Flagstaff, the tourist trap of Meteor Crater. Families, kids, retirees, snowbirds, foreigners, vacationers—all aimless and gawking—mill about the gift shop, the theater, the food court. Chatting and awkwardly glazing over the artifacts under museum glass. Our guide takes us outside, where we stand around the rim of a huge bowl in the earth, forty stories deep, where an iron-based meteorite crashed to earth approximately fifty thousand years ago and vanished on impact. We stare down into the hole. The guide tells us that many scientists assumed the site was a volcanic vent, given widespread cinder craters and other geologic activity in the surrounding area. The few fragments of meteorite found nearby, he says, resemble rocks thought to exist in the earth’s core. We stare at one such lump displayed in the visitor’s center. Whether a celestial body hurled from space or a coronary shard spewed up from the depths of earth, its provenance makes little difference: it is evidence that the earth could burst, the sky could fall, or a rare and fiery fate could overcome us.
“You ready to go home?” Megan asks.
“Another glance. One more.”We walk up to the lookout before we leave. I swivel the scope behind me. I survey the twinkling expanse into the Painted Desert, far-off plateaus and mountains. Our day still bright, a twilit vapor at its edge. The hills themselves are passing into darkness No need for a coup de foudre, a bolt from the blue. Light is. Reveals and veils at once. Plays its variations. The meridian’s erased into a razor. We retain only glimmers, glimmers are all we know, all that light makes known of itself. An envoy of vanishment, a call toward a ravishing divine.
Will Cordeiro has work in Agni, The Cincinnati Review, DIAGRAM, The Offing, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. Will’s collection Trap Street won the 2019 Able Muse Book Award. Will co-edits Eggtooth Editions and teaches in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University.