May 14, 2007

Texas Tale

I went to Texas
and a town burnt down.

Believe it or not,
its name was Flat.

A poem waiting
to happen, I'd say.

Town with a name like
Flat just catching fire,

its scorched pines and pic-
nic benches crackling

in the noonday heat,
snapping into flame

like matchsticks on the soles
of some body's big boots.

It was a tall town,
Flat, before it burnt—

well—flat, and became
what it was meant to be.

Tall as a live oak
against the prairie.

Tall as a daughter
just before she leaves.

Tall as the Gulf Oil
sign at Wick Harney's

full-service station
at Main St. & First

in a small Texas
town that was once tall

till fire proved it proud
and cursed it flat.

One more Texas fact:
it never happened.

The town that burnt down
had another name,

one forgettable
and tragically true.

And I had nothing
to do with the fire.

But the poem came
anyway, a spark

some vague-eyed native
or half-deaf traveler

to Texas let drop
and laid to waste

a town that never
was and still is not

Flat as ever in the
level heart of Texas.

—Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Posted by dwaber at May 14, 2007 11:55 AM