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The Technology of the Yellow Butterflies

Kim Maltman
From:   Technologies/Installations. Brick Books, 1990.


An orange moon rises over the high desert. This is east of Bakersfield, and all day the weight of the sun has borne down, baking the land into exhaustion, so that, toward four, in all directions, dust devils have sprouted from the fields. The yellow butterflies dart and drift, not so many as to fill the air, but like the leaves of certain trees, the mountain poplar, for example, falling, whose season it is. But it was the faces I wanted to tell you about. There were ugly industrial flats and broken down houses on the edge of town, half-dismembered pick-ups filling the front yards, huge TV antennas. Everything looked beaten down — as if someone had meant to level it into the earth. This was where the butterflies began. The eddies sprang up in the fields and died away, or swerved suddenly to jump the road. And later that night, in the high desert between Barstow and Needles, the huge orange moon, just risen — the land to the east was suffused with that color so it was like autumn, only strangely hot still, the way it streamed over my arm. I had been driving all day. Everything I owned was in the truck and there was somebody I cared for with me. Whether I could have said, in truth, why I was going or not, I don't know. I had a new job, there were still a thousand miles to go and suddenly I was dead tired, in the heart of America, and filled with contempt for the idea of freedom.



Kim Maltman's works copyright © to the author.


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