Carolyn Sperry: “Updates from Sour Lake”

Updates from Sour Lake


In Kansas there is still the prairie:
we saw sheep being trucked away
down the interstate, their baby faces white and moony
as they slipped and rattled in the steel.
At a rest stop, birds warbled ancient sets of sounds.
Then, at night, the grassland was so flat
a clear dome of stars went unbroken to the rim of land.

In California the mountains
were hard against the sky, with organic foothills—
rolls and tucks and crotches 
green and stretched out, an ongoing body.

In Arizona we picked through purple and green rocks,
wary of scorpions, looking for gemstones in the sandy soil.
On the way back to the motel with the kidney-shaped pool
we saw someone slam his Jeep into a solid wall of rock. 

We called 911. 
For a split second, I said, I thought there was another road he was going down.
The cop nodded. The man hadn’t made it.   

After a shitty fight in Texas, 
I left myself at a gas station, but we didn't go back.
He* and I stayed together long enough to see a massive sinkhole.
It ate away at the land – it felt like the whole town might disappear.

*He could make the sound of a mourning dove,
breathing through his hands
like they were a flute,
fingers lifting away from each other
for the high notes.

About the Author: Carolyn Sperry is a freelance writer based in Rochester, NY. She has published articles in news outlets across the United States and is a winner of the Gotham Writers Stories Everywhere competition. She lives with her husband and two sons.

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “The pumps have long been dry at this little truck stop east of the town of Sabinol, Texas” (2014) The Library of Congress (public domain)

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