for Richard Hugo
The Rev. Royal Filkin preaches
tomorrow on why we are sad.
Brethren, Montana’s a landscape
requiring faith: the visible
government arrives in trucks,
if you live out far enough.
If you live in town, the government’s
gone, on errands, in trucks.
Let citizens go to meetings,
I’ll stay home. I hate a parade.
By the time you get the trout
up through the tiny triangular
holes in the Coors cans, they’re so
small you have to throw them back.
Glum miles we go
to Grandmother’s house.
The earth out here doesn’t bear us
up so much as it keeps us out,
an old trick of the beautiful.
Remember what Chief Left Hand said?
Never mind. Everything else
was taken from him,
let’s leave his grief alone.
My Eastern friends ask me
how I like it in the West,
or God’s country, as it’s sometimes
called, though God, like a slumlord,
lives in the suburbs: Heaven.
And I don’t live “in the West”;
I live in this canyon among a few
other houses and abandoned
mines, vaccinations that didn’t take.