At this altitude smokefall is long and literal. The clouds a county fair, ferrous and dirty pink. The sun slips over the horizon like a cockroach down a drain, and finally the sky can be ancient again. All night the ghost sounds of trains fill the valley with copper to mine and make into semiconductors. Obese trucks leave oil slicks that evaporate before they have a chance to be mirage.
The people who live in the park pray to this obsolescence. They carry crystals into which they hoard their wish to be forgotten, their memories mercifully burnt on the inside of a soda can. They are unable to recognize their fathers’ faces on the sides of bus stops and their one guitar can only play sunkissed ballads from dead decades, the same songs that chirp earnestly from their former homes up in the foothills.
The worried mother fills her solarium with turquoise, mesquite, and other gift-shop fetishes. She once read that these slow the apocalypse, but of course it precesses from these very foxholes. It does not arrive in storms of sand and locusts, but in the moment we thought to draw ourselves into heaven.
Here it is, our land to waste as we see fit. College kids leave empty thunderbirds in the planetarium. Poets lament how easy it is to sublimate in so much heat. If there are retired spooks limping among us, only they know what they know. And here I am, weeping for the roadkill coyote, wishing he would laugh at the sacredness I grant him.
Nick Greer is from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is an editor for Territory, a literary project about maps and other strange objects. Recent work can be found in PLINTH, Tin House Open Bar, and Cleaver Magazine.