Missoula in a Dusty Light
Walking home through the tall Montana twilight, leaves were moving in the gutters and a little dust... I saw beyond the roofs and chimneys a cloud like a hill of smoke, amber and dirty grey. And a wind began from the street corners and rutted alleys, out of year-end gardens, weed lots and trash bins; the yellow air came full of specks and ash, noiseless, crippled things that crashed and flew again... grit and the smell of rain. And then a steady sound, as if an army or a council, long-skirted, sweeping the stone, were gathering near; disinherited and vengeful people, scuffing their bootheels, rolling tin cans before them. And quieter still behind them the voices of birds and whispering brooms: "This Land has bitter roots, and seeds that crack and spill in the wind..." I halted under a blowing light to listen, to see; and it was the bleak Montana wind sweeping the leaves and dust along the street. John Haines