High Plain

A focal point is like a remark being made to you.

A landscape that has no focal point is like a silence.

It constitutes simply a solitude that has turned its back on you.

—John Berger, Portraits

That is, no landscape is for you, though some lands lend themselves to the illusion. That is: to lack a focal point is in fact not to lack but to diffuse: the speech here is not human; it doesn’t come from one mouth. Imagine, on this plain, each piece of grass as the dry flick of a brush—as in, each has to be touched. Walk and handle each one. Yi-Fu Tuan writes that topophilia can’t come from the seen alone: or, that what we see we can easily extract from the actual: it’s more difficult to perceive as distant the clay taste, hard wind in hair moving, the stiff smell of dust and mammal, then the near doves’ rustle, at the surface, unknown. I can’t help but bring you where I am. The stain of frantic water weeks after rain, then the earth cracking—somehow fleshlike, the obscenity of the natural—scars and lips opening along the sere edges of dirt. The water is somewhere, but soundless. The flat presses up as well as it does down. To accept this as actual is to have stood on one ground with me.


EMMA AYLOR's poems have appeared in New England Review, AGNI, Colorado Review, 32 Poems, and The Yale Review Online, among other journals. She lives in West Texas.