859: Diving at Blue Hole

859: Diving at Blue Hole

859: Diving at Blue Hole


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

April is National Poetry Month; it is the time of year I pack my bags sometimes twice a week to travel to a community in the United States that values poetry. Towns where libraries, art centers, and schools, program readings, hang broadsides in store windows, and host local contests. I’m not just talking about big cities, but remote towns that require connecting flights, followed by an hour or more of car travel.

I once flew into Omaha, Nebraska and at the airport, expected my host to meet me at the baggage carousel. After nearly an hour, I learned a car rental had been made in my name at Hertz. Turned out my destination was Kearney, Nebraska, a pleasant three-hour drive west along I-80, full of all the smells of cattle. On another occasion, I drove from Denver to Laramie, Wyoming, and saw tumbleweed for the first time. There, I served as the feature poet for an open mic, then listened to very talented cowboy poets, queer poets, nature poets.

When I travel, before my arrival, I read the online local newspaper to acquaint myself with the prevailing issues of that community. However, I read the local poets to tell me how they feel about those issues. I listen to hear their collective dignity. And thus, I feel utterly connected to poets across the United States, poets from Mankato, Minnesota, to Miami. I feel kinship with the Route 1 poets in New Jersey, and poets in Farmington, Maine. I’ve found family in the poets in Northern and Southern California.

In the spirit of Walt Whitman who heard the chorus of voices that made America and its geography, today’s poem continues the rich tradition of celebrating a poetry of place, utterly unique and rich for its ability to cultivate its poets to sing our land into our literary record.

Diving at Blue Hole
by Ally H. Young

In Wimberley, Texas, there is a hole in the sandstone someone has called definitely deep blue. Bluebon-
nets grow on the road up to it and lost mountain bluebirds fly around and in it in concentric circles. 
Tourists drop things in the freshwater and leave with new things that are harder to name like how do 
you name your own blue? As a child I tried not to lie. I had little to say about the screaming cow-bird 
and I didn’t care about what it might like to eat. Mice, I might have guessed. Snakes. Or small-
er birds, like blue jays. But it seemed often just as true that ravens might subsist solely on the wind from 
plumper birds, on their even more indigo hearts, that they might devour nightly the full blue apexes of 
constellations, tear Saturn apart at her ripe cerulean center. I dreamed of it. My name, Little Blue 
Heron. Little and blue like whatever is sky is blue, like whatever is not is a Greater Blue Heron, landing, 
just for a moment, on the creaking rink of a half frozen lake. 

"Diving at Blue Hole" by Allyson Young. Used by permission of the poet.