Phoenix Museum Of History - Poem by Martin TURNER
The Salt River valley was green enough then
To strike camp and some of us never really left.
By the time Mrs Abercrombie had finished
Shushing all the oaths and drinking with pay threats,
And her six children had issued from their home tent
With pretty manners, the tiny harmonium was wheezing
On plain Sundays as the new century unrolled.
After a gust of rain the desert sage would brighten
A perceptible green, trapping sun like glass,
Between Baseline and Van Buren,
But in winter sheets of water would slush up
The dobie doorsteps to a froth of orange mud
That stained legs and hems and rode on boots.
It would be weeks before more cocoa, nails and kerchiefs
Blew in on a prairie schooner,
But the old Yuma Indian’s calendar stick remembered
The party of Apaches massacred by Maricopas,
Guests, like MacDonalds, in a strangers’ glen.
Television wasn’t guessed at, greying strained public brows,
Nor the Jaycees, but every rodeo
Made a welcome change from the struggle with letters.
Parcels of land soon went in adjacent lots.
Sometimes glass towers seemed to melt
In the mirage at the far bend,
But a mile was a mile then.
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