Natalie Diaz was recently awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection Postcolonial Love Poem. One of my favorite poems from the collection, “If I Should Come Upon Your House Lonely in the West Texas Desert” is placed in the high-desert landscape of Marfa. The rhythm and imagery of her poetry are such a delight!
Diaz explains in the notes that she had been remixing the story of “The Three Bears” for her niece and sampled some of the phrases in this poem: I.e., “just right” “beak all your chairs to pieces.” This splendid love poem begins with the vivid imagery of the author throwing her lasso of headlights to her beloved and reels us all into the beauty, fragility, and quest for love.
“If I Should Come Upon Your House Lonely in the West Texas Desert”
I will swing my lasso of headlights
across your front porch,
let it drop like a rope of knotted
light at your feet.
While I put the car in park,
you will tie and tighten the loop
of light around your waist—
and I will be there with the other end
wrapped three times
around my hips horned with loneliness.
Reel me in across the glow-throbbing sea
of greenthread, bluestem prickly poppy,
the white inflorescence of yuccabells,
up the dust-lit stairs into your arms.
If you say to me, This is not your new
house but I am your new home,
I will enter the door of your throat,
hang my last lariat in the hallway,
build my altar of best books on your bedside table,
turn the lamp on and off, on and off, on and off.
I will lie down in you.
Eat my meals at the red table of your heart.
Each steaming bowl will be, Just right.
I will eat it all up,
break all your chairs to pieces.
If I try running off into the deep-purpling scrub brush,
you will remind me,
There is nowhere to go if you are already here,
and pat your hand on your lap lighted
by the topazion lux of the moon through the window,
say, Here, Love, sit here—when I do,
I will say, And here I still am.
Until then, Where are you? What is your address?
I am hurting. I am riding the night
on a full tank of gas and my headlights
are reaching out for something.