What We Sow
They finished the ring road when I was young,
but I remember its dirt surface scarring
the desert, the barricades.
Later, we drove along it; turned east at
the intersection where ritzy houses
stood atop promontories, sneering down
on those who passed.
Sagebrush gave way to older homes,
shaded by thirsty, non-native trees;
small ranches where horses and cows
watched the cars go by.
Then the semi-urban heart, a mall built
in the sixties, where the parquet floor kicked
up wooden rectangles, loosened by steps.
Since my father’s death, no reason to make
my visits anything but virtual;
I drive my childhood on Google maps:
ranches subdivided, horses gone.
The oldest houses remain surrounded
by chain-link fences that rich folk scorn,
and the new homes? Manicured, with thirsty
They tore the mall down years ago; left an
empty lot where it stood, a ghost circled
by chain link, and sagebrush grows where asphalt cracks.
No one here cares that they’ve overbuilt,
that the water supply won’t sustain them.
They don’t know that they’re dying, that they’ll reap
what they sowed.
They killed the small town to build a city
on its grave, but never had a plan they
could stick to, so now the city’s slowly
And I close the map, happy to have left
the biggest little city, a tumbleweed
that took root elsewhere.