Lytton Smith

Addressing a Country as the Name We Like

Mornings people wake nomadic to find themselves later resident
in the red glance of sunfall. Perhaps you name this state home
for the least errant of roots. Trails etched just as far as needed,
landmarks more reliable than placenames placed here and gone—.
The redbrick silo lingers, a reedpipe for an underwater town.
Carved in the peepul trees, in the poplars, barkmaps to whom.
One generation longer you’ll approach by duskherd and soyfield.
And after, by subdivision, almost sightless. We speak a forgotten
language of place, using words as if there is no distance. Towns
woodlands abbeys sloped retreats pattern out like dynamos
whirring fainter, fading in colour, closing at the edges the less we tell.
What you were advised about places you have not traveled flits
through your mind like settlers’ roads, abandoned. If you followed,
what tragedy at the end could you avert. If at the end the spectacle
were a barnhouse greenroofed, horses unpaddocked? In this halflight
the idea of an end troubles me. Tell how you knew destination itself.
Where you found yourself enclosed within the location in question.

Lytton Smith
“Addressing a Country as the Name We Like” first appeared in Tin House 10.2.