A few years ago, I wrote a short article for "The Huntsville Times" about how writing a poem is actually the search for the spiritual. My writing poetry is an attempt to transform the grit of daily life into more than itself. One way I do that is, sometimes, by looking at the past. A big part of American history deals with our desire to strike it rich. That can be seen from the gold rushes of the past to the current greed by the oil industry and Wall Street. Sometimes thinking about the past puts things in perspective for me. My poem below deals with this issue that is so "American."
Everything was left in place in that high town dug so deeply underground, the magazines on the rack, billiard cues on the table, the drinks still set, a world map schooling you to new mines. But what gain was there in Bodie? The corrugated buildings housed the fortune grinding everything down for that moment of gold. Now the brilliant light, thinned by snow and dry wind, heat and cold, polarizes the gaming wheel, your last poker chips. Coffins and sewing machines, typewriters, skis, a violin, its pieces all unglued by dust, do the speaking for you as if you cast them down like demons unto the earth, a scar in the Nevadas cut in haste, sick with altitude, dehydrated, your bones chilled. The human eye tries to correct the colors here, find the contrast, make up the difference with filters, but we know the truth, of the fires consuming you, street by street, shop by horrid shop, so violent a struggle between you and the outside. We mourn you isolated in your death, arrested in your frenzy to get somewhere, torn by need. Did you find what you were after? Or is it still buried beneath you like some mother lode never found?
---copyright, Virginia Gilbert Published in "Greatest Hits"
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