Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

From the Texas Sky:
Searching for Columbia 

by Kim Lane

These last few days, our eyes have been drawn to everything laying waste on the side of the road or in an abandoned field: large matted folds of pink fiberglass insulation, broken glass bulbs with exposed filaments pointing skyward, twisted metal from a long ago accident; pieces with unknown histories that have been dropped, left or blown.

We think about the thousands of pieces and parts scattered across several Texas counties that are now being searched for with meticulous reverence — combing, examining, marking…

over and over and over.

It is a long, sad process to piece together a tragic puzzle, but a scene not so uncommon here in Texas. We frequently have thieves that come in the night, when our most tender selves are exposed. Or during the day, when we are distracted by weighted, emerald clouds that cloak what's approaching.

If we are lucky, we emerge blinking in the rude brightness, the landscape completely inverted, the air thick with the smell of wet lumber, deep soil and severed roots; forever changed by witnessing the inside of something that we assumed would always be intact, protected and whole.

The only work ahead is that of recovery — a sacred job. A job that requires few words but demands a deep respect and appreciation for how fragile life is, even the tiniest pieces of it. The work that's being done now, by so many Texans and others, perhaps led by the lingering ghosts of Waco, Saragosa, Wichita Falls and Jarrell whispering:

"There. There's a piece over there. And over here"

If shattering is inevitable, Texas seems a comforting, familiar and regrettably-prepared place for that to happen.
Kim Lane is the editor of AustinMama.com