voices from the cascadia bioregion

cropduster

by daniel butterworth


Against the thunderheads grazing the mountains
your wings move a machine lighter than air
above fields giving their desolations over
to green. Is it chemical you lay over weeds
ripe with feral hopes, or fertilizer that hauls you
down toward hope? Metaphor is uneasy under
your flight flickering above the Rattlesnake Hills
when your biplane scours ranges of the heartland.
Meltwaters from our childhood sift down
to cultivate the years with the memory of you
un-kissed. The sudden leveling of the cropduster
nearly knocks me off the highway, no metaphor
at all but the final mortal road from here
through fever and light to anywhere at all.

 

    statement of place: daniel butterworth

    Since I frequently make the drive between Spokane where I live and Seattle where I grew up, it has become more an unreeling of encounters than the experiencing of discrete locations. Heading west from Moses Lake toward the Columbia River canyon is always exciting, and as the landscape becomes more complex it takes on the heft and feel of home. The unexpected rise and plummet of a crop-duster is a thrill and a shock, the way it describes the possibilities of height and depth against the backdrop of the approaching Cascades. As the highway unreels through the curving fields and a crop-duster suddenly appears it’s as if the vast potential of life, the lived and the unlived, somehow become palpable dimensions of the landscape. A girl from childhood desired but left unkissed, a child’s drawing of the house with a door, two windows, a curl of smoke from an archetypal chimney, a pale sun and raw flowers, the smell of the wind blowing from Puget Sound—the past and present, the lived and the dreamed are conjured up as the sagebrush hills give way to fields of winter wheat falling away to the basalt draws of the canyon, and then rising beyond the river, more hills, more fields, the mountains lifting up blue in the distances.