after John Ford’s The Searchers

— Jacqueline Balderrama

Scene 1: Doorway

Darkness becomes a door opening.
How thin the transition seems now,
to realize the eye was inside
between one side and this overwhelming color,
pressed between scenes.
Fresh cotton clothes hover.
The world drops off in all directions.
How long is this expected to last
in these outdoors
where there’s no place for a garden
due to desert and desert and wind.
The settlers in their cotton clothes will
eat what they’ve carried
or what someone else has carried
or else, the food will appear on the table
fresh and ready for dinner, but
only because how it happened is not important.
How it happened need only feel impossible
in such a place of trying.
Watch instead the faces, their hair tied back,
how the light and dark sides of the door
trade places at day’s end.

Scene 2: Everyone had ideas about what should happen next

For the sake the audience, the mother on the television
doesn’t mistake her children for one other.
Only a visiting relation accidentally renames the sisters
to prove how long he’s been gone.
Seeing the younger and older,
their whole lives become
stand-ins for a past and present
of dresses, screams, and braids,
a mimicry in which for the sake of variety,
one must disappear.

And isn’t that she being lifted into the air?
Perhaps she will keep rising, because she is the smaller and lighter.
She will keep rising until the desert sky puts on her blue cotton dress
and the windows are all left open to welcome her back.

Read more from Issue No. 8 or share on Twitter.