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Date(s) - 09/20/2018 - 09/27/2018
All Day


And finally, one poet’s down-to-earth conception of God . . .

Hill Country

          by Tracy K. Smith

He comes down from the hills, from

the craggy rock, the shrubs, the scrawny

live oaks and dried-up junipers. Down

from the cloud-bellies and the bellies

of hawks, from the caracaras stalking

carcasses, from the clear, sun-smacked

soundlessness that shrouds him. From the

weathered bed of planks outside the cabin

where he goes to be alone with his questions.

God comes down along the road with his

windows unrolled so the twigs and hanging

vines can slap and scrape against him in his jeep.

Down past the buck caught in the hog trap

that kicks and heaves, bloodied, blinded

by the whiff of its own death, which God—

thank God—staves off. He downshifts,

crosses the shallow trickle of river that only

just last May scoured the side of the canyon

to rock. Gets out. Walks along the limestone

bank. Castor beans. Cactus. Scat of last

night’s coyotes. Down below the hilltops,

he squints out at shadow: tree backing tree.

Dark depth the eyes glide across, not bothering

to decipher what it hides. A pair of dragonflies

mate in flight. Tiny flowers throw frantic color

at his feet. If he tries—if he holds his mind

in place and wills it—he can almost believe

in something larger than himself rearranging

the air. He squints at the jeep glaring

in bright sun. Stares a while at patterns

the tall branches cast onto the undersides

of leaves. Then God climbs back into the cab,

returning to everywhere.