The Fourth River

Tributaries, The New Nature: “Dear Carole, you would like it here”

By on August 29, 2018

By Sarah A. Chavez

 

in this room; behind the computer,
is a wall of windows.
It is on the second story and rarely
does anyone look in,
though I am always looking out.

The view is so different than any view
we ever had in the mobile home
or apartment. There are many trees,
and not new ones. These are old

as the country and taller than a six story
mall. Not that you ever
gave a shit about nature, but here
the long barren arms of the trees in winter
reach menacingly toward the blank
grey sky and when the rain falls (which it does
so often), the drops perch like clear
berries off the dead textured ends.

A thousand murders could happen here.

That’s how dark the darkness is,
how closely the bodies of the trees
huddle. Maybe even they are scared
of what is possible.

You could write hundreds of mystery novels
from this room. The environment ripe
with assault rifles and heroin, with aggression
toward young queers, the trafficking of children.
Young women found in barns and basements,
tied with rope and locked with chains, guns
held to their heads by fathers and mothers,
by someone who told them
they knew what was best.

In these stories, you wouldn’t have to rely
on urban decay, smashed-out street lights, trash
bins in alleyways for the lack of visibility
characters need to entrap a victim—
folks here are tired, bleary-brained, blinded
by generations of white anger at closing mines

which took away jobs, which they are told
was a foreigner’s fault. Not big white
business, but the brown people flooding
the U.S. border. Forget that nary a brown
person is to be found in the entire state—2% blends
into the shadows, can crouch working
behind a car, in the back of a kitchen
washing dishes, behind a blazer in
a university classroom where her students
write essays about the necessity
of building a wall and deportation.

Carole, if you weren’t dead, I’d say,
come write here with me. The sunsets
sinking behind the mountains are stunning,
the sward lush. Your smoking wouldn’t
garner dirty looks and the important thing
we all have in common is the anxiety
of the working classes, our fear
of being taken advantage of.

From this room, so far from Fresno, thousands
of miles above sea level, your detectives
could keep busy dodging corrupt sheriffs,
shouting, hands megaphoned around mouth
into dilapidated houses pitch dark
with overgrown greenbrier.

 

**

Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the poetry collections, Hands That Break & Scar (Sundress Publications, 2017) and All Day, Talking (dancing girl press, 2014) selections of which were awarded the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship. Her work can be found in Brevity, North American Review, VIDA, Atticus Review, among others. She teaches Ethnic American literature and creative writing at Marshall University. She serves as the coordinator for the A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series and is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.