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December 12, 2016 | Poetry

White Sands

Peter Shippy

White Sands photo

The Palace

As this was the last movie theater in the city, he was the last usher, and the last ticket seller, popcorn maker, and projectionist. He was the last person to talk during the film and the last to yell, Shh. As he watched the closing credits he noticed that he was the hero, the villain, the director, the cinematographer, the gaffer, and also the writer. Ah, he thought, as he vacuumed the carpet, that explains the hole in the second act.

 

Our Village

While waiting for the bus I took in the window display in our new gun shop. A holiday theme: elves and bunnies. A woman I knew joined me. “If my father had lived to see this,” she said, “he’d have shot himself in the head.” I had to agree.

 

White Sands

I woke them, I fed them, I did their homework, their spread-sheets, I helped them dress, I gave them money for lunch, for drinks after work, and then I stretched out on the floor, closed my eyes, and watched my favorite film, White Sands.

A woman is driving two camels across the desert when her truck runs out of gas. As she tries to pull the animals out of the aluminum trailer, she sees a reflection in the metal. A white-robed figure is walking over a sand dune, toward her. Behind the figure is a mountain, no, the haboob. She saddles the camels and when the figure arrives, they mount. They race the storm. They pass a downed aircraft and a tow-headed boy singing,“Sometimes It Snows in April.” The sky is rash with foxing. An anvil falls on a coyote.  A brick beans a cat. When one of the camels gives up the ghost they ride double. The figure smells like musk grain, or is that the air? Then the screen goes white. After a few seconds, she and the figure return, standing, staring at a mushroom cloud. The camels retreat, running into the sandstorm. The camera pulls-back and we see that the desert is inside an hourglass.

The figure opens their robe and the woman disappears inside.

After the credits, I vacuum. I vacuum for hours and hours.

 

 

image: Aaron Burch


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