American Sublime

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In the junk littered across the vacant lot, the hub caps, shoes, and cigarillo stubs, the condom wrappers and the soda cans, in the wild broom smothering the cyclone fence where the vole wriggles in the satin jaws of the copperhead and trespassers sleep a troubled slumber on the spines of grass, I swear I could have stretched out forever in that idiom of wreckage and dry weeds, clutching my cellphone and my certainties, or else stretched out, alone but for the birds, among the dreams of the idealists who strove to forge a culture in the wild; and thought about what festered at the root, the many subtle motions of the mind whose lucid, ratiocinative conclusions, governed by postulates and axioms, first set the price of scalps and drove the lash— perukes, principles, and an abstract rage tangling like the gears and busted sprockets that moldered in a puddle by the ditch. I could have spiked a fever of optimism, suckled the tit of patriotic zeal, Paul Revere on the back of a horse, etc., while troops of ants advanced on a lemon rind and shreds of sunlight flittered in the shade. Lying among the clutter and the chaos, I could have blown a smoke ring at the clouds, sounding at dusk my own barbaric yawp plucked from the ashes of the age of reason and half a dozen mortgaged promises, or played the clever, hopeful pragmatist, no cracker jack of wisdom, a Ben Franklin angling for light with a kite string and a key. Instead of walking home beneath the streetlamps, I could have mused there, late, to hear the thistles shape their syllables from a sudden gust where kudzu climbed the pine to its desire— a stranger, an outcast in that wilderness, a bearer of the myths that I’d been raised on, who envied, still, the pure, plain speech of weeds.