Flyover Ghazal

If the sun slung itself red for just a ray, the mountains could be torn down by just one bull.
But night falls blue and early in the valley, draws shades on all the cows and that one bull.

You split your childhood along the road running past the barn,
the gas station, the cafe, the RV parts store, the high school—your town scrapping against the
            tourism brochure’s humble.

And—Cheers!—everyone knows everyone’s name, is helping everyone’s cousin wean off the
          painkillers;
in the QFC, nurses thank each other in mumbles.

Church goths sneaking yaoi under the JESUS IS LORD sign, and how can you show their
            mothers the distance
when the one hapa family vacations in Hawai’i—Prejudice? Unwarranted? Drop the stun gun?
            Bull
.

Young granola five miles north, retirement community five miles south,
a county-wide political bruise of elbow-rubbing, cross-talk grumble.

There are no paved sidewalks. There are no new jobs. This is no new story,
so when you walk past the fished-out fishery and the rot-stink paper mill, you see the same old
            roadside roots and again you stumble.

There is a rift, a slide to the beach and any day the whole landscape could remake itself—
while you have it you try to show your city friends, you try to grab ahold, but you fumble.

Still, in this captured light and green and pig-fat scent,
you could find your way around no matter which way you were spun, bull.

Stop playing dumb, stubborn—I call bull. You saw it stirring caliginous in the cave before the
            country did, the fear, the hunger, the eyes fisted shut,
and when there is a whole pasture and the mountains not to tear down, you hear the red ray
            coming and you run, bull.


Cali Kopczick is editor-at-large for Chin Music Press and production manager/story editor for the documentary Where the House Was. Her writing is out or forthcoming with The Offing, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Bone Bouquet, and others. She lives in Seattle, WA.