The Country of Here Below
“Poet Wyn Cooper made Utah his home as a college undergraduate at just about the time he began to write poetry in earnest; but though his first book of poems reflects a sensibility as shaped by the desert landscape more than almost any I have encountered, these are no campfire poems. In fact, rather than abandon in his poems the often frightening urban landscape of the Detroit where he grew up in favor of a desert wilderness, Cooper finds the two not incompatible and combines them in ways that are both moving and eerie.”
Desert, With Train
I can hear it moving through the night,
Wheels on tracks on dirt still warm,
A straight line west through two more valleys
And a slow turn north, then two full days
Beyond the border, into Canada.
Here the air is colorless, but filled
With other things: coyote in a trap
Far away, now silenced by the train,
Aroma of sage released by dew
And dew itself, cool on cool bodies
About to rest, as the train will rest
In another country, the coyote dead,
Sagebrush burning in the summer sun.
That same sun will wake us soon,
Before we are ready, without a sound.
We do not move but know the earth does,
Through black and silent space, describing
An ellipse again and again. We do not speak
And fall slowly to sleep, perfectly still,
Stars burning and falling over our heads.