By Enid Osborn

            Driving into Roswell, New Mexico            
                June 2, 2002 10:30 p.m.

At the end of a thousand miles,
I skim the mesa in my night-colored car
    with the windows rolled down.

That mist of pretty stars in the distance
    is my hometown.

Though this is not the place to offer me
    any kind of a welcome,
I go for that little galaxy,
    roughly in the shape I remember it,
    making a heart in the big river basin
    where water and oil lie secret under the earth.

And off to the north, lightning
    flashes in the bellies of low-lying clouds.
That slow strobe of golden light
    fills me with resolute joy.

Fields run alongside the road,
    opening wide, and the smell of alfalfa on a humid summer night
    changes my mind about a lot of things.

What things? Can’t tell you now…

but I swear by this sweet road,
    I am the child who ate this dirt.
    I am the dear daughter who was hankered for.
    I am the prodigal, singing my Southern hymn.
    I am the nighthawk, winging my way home.

Enid Osborn served as Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara from 2017 to 2019. The poems in When The Big Wind Comes (2015) take place during her childhood in Southeast New Mexico. She co-edited A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens, and has completed seven chapbooks and a new manuscript, Little Wakes. “Nighthawk” © Enid Osborn. From When The Big Wind Comes (BigYesPress, 2015). Permission to reprint granted by the author. Also by this poet: "Ode to Bob the Shoe Man" and "If My Father Throws Me Up in the Air"