Porch Time

by Jim Provencher

Photography by Stephen Hummel

Time seeps and stains humped hills

vermilion—in quicksilver town,

it’s porch time, a hand-rolled smoke,

pink and grey clouds, feather wisps.

The day is distilled into windborne vapor.

The scarred and wounded earth

gives up its silver pulse,

and mecurial destinies still dance

in the palm like sun on a desert river.

Empty pour-offs wash

sand into thirsty valleys.

Crumbling contrabando adobes

exhale marrow dust into the spring gust.

Watch it whirl, wandering willy-nilly

way off where they

blow themselves out.

It’s porch time– “No dogs

allowed on the porch”,

but they’re drowsing there,

napping under benches beneath dripping eaves.

A shower springs up from the Gulf.

I peer through roof-runoff—

Electric neon drills

played out, slumping hills.

Porch time, thinking again—that’s a mistake.

Taking the marginal way

along the boundary, edging

into emptiness and another night.

Flaking rust, fading paint, and the rainbow:

It’ll break your heart if you let it.

Jim Provencher is a poet and photographer who is a dedicated desert wanderer. As an American ex-pat living in Australia, he has come to spend his Down Under winters exploring the deserts of South Australia and the Red Centre. In his Antipodal summers, he has spent the last ten years foraging the American Southwest, the Borderlands, roving and ranging the Empty Quarter of little rain. Deserts imply negation, places one merely passes through, minimalistic tribulations. Yet they are so much more. Provencher, who grew up as a French-Canadian on a borderline, was culturally sundered from the start. Thus he has found a genuine home in these culturally and geographically constrained complex Fronterizo regions.

Stephen Hummel is a Dark Skies Specialist at the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory, tasked with helping to preserve the night sky in the Big Bend region through education and awareness, community advocacy, and monitoring of sky conditions in support of astronomical research. In addition, Stephen is an experienced photographer of all things in the night sky.