When you leave a Real City, as Gertrude Stein did, and go to Oakland, as she did, you can say, as she did, there is no there, there. When you are a Hartford insurance executive, as Wallace Stevens was, and you have never been to Oklahoma, as he had not, you can invent people to dance there, as he did, and you can name them Bonnie and Josie. But a THERE depends on how, in the beginning, the wind breathes upon its surface. Shh: amethyst, sapphire. Lead. Crystal mirror. See, a cow-pond in Oklahoma. Under willows now, so the Osage man fishing there is in the shade. A bobwhite whistles from his fencepost, a hundred yards south of the pond. A muskrat-head draws a nest of Vs up to the pond’s apex, loses them there in the reeds and sedges where a redwing blackbird, with gold and scarlet epaulets flashing, perches on the jiggly buttonwood branch. Purple martins skim the pond, dip and sip, veer and swoop, check, pounce, crisscross each other’s flashing paths. His wife in the Indian Hospital with cancer. Children in various unhappiness. White clouds sail slowly across the pure blue pond. Turtles poke their heads up, watch the Indian man casting, reeling, casting, reeling. A bass strikes, is hooked, fights, is reeled in, pulls away again, is drawn back, dragged ashore, put on the stringer. In Oklahoma, Wally, here is Josie’s father. Something that is going to be nothing, but isn’t. Watch: now he takes the bass home, cleans and fries it. Shall I tell you a secret, Gert? You have to be there before it’s there. Daddy, would you pass them a plate of fish? See friends, it’s not a flyover here. Come down from your planes and you’ll understand. Here.
Carter Revard, “In Oklahoma” from An Eagle Nation. Copyright © 1993 by Carter Revard. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.
Source: An Eagle Nation (University of Arizona Press, 1993)