Nothing is everything

  • Shadows on rock

    Russell Hepworth
  • book cover of "Antique Land"

  • A wind mill in the desert

    Russell Hepworth
  • Skies over Nevada

    Russell Hepworth

Imagine some tan grass and sage,

monoliths and blow outs,

flatness the feet cannot believe,

distance the eye laughs at

as it fumbles blindly

with the ends of all time.

Imagine everything here moves

(even the cactus will come close

to a sleeping man

and the beetle will tunnel

under the arch of his foot)

and a full half-moon

is enough light for gray things.

Here our secret voice is too loud.

When we think, the desert hushes ...

so quiet jack rabbits can hear

owls listening with one ear ...

so quiet when a vulture beckons

with the bones of our hand

our shadow makes a dragging sound

like dry skin over rock.

Inside our selves, there is nothing

anyone can say to us.

We learn to hear a voice

with no sound, with no tongue

with no mouth, as if the air

itself was a way of speaking.

We have become easily startled

because we are living

in the space closest to our bodies.

William Studebaker and Russell Hepworth are longtime residents and students of the dry, cool regions of Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. In Travelers in an Antique Land, Studebaker's spare poetry and Hepworth's black-and-white photographs reveal places that most people see only from their car windows. Their emotional responses to the land transcend politics; their craftsmanship leaves readers with an understanding of the high desert, from Bliss, Idaho, to Death, Nev. Travelers in an Antique Land is for those who wish to hold this part of the world in their hands and minds.

University of Idaho Press, Moscow, ID 83844-1107 (1-800/UIPress). 81 pages, hardback with black-and-white photographs. $49.95

" John Sollers


You do this because

it is the only water

because your tongue

has thickened from breathing

because the desert taunted you

and kicked heat down your throat

until you choked.

With both hands

you part the green scum.

You are no Moses

but the clear water below

is a miracle for which

you would risk everything.

Between drinks you watch

mosquito larvae

flip and jerk up and down.

Your last drink is quick

*ot as deep as the first.


Whoever said you can't

learn by studying nothing

wasn't a philosopher

or a Nevadan.

In Nevada, nothing is

everything. We make do

with what we have "

even due north.

Most directions we travel

without. We've forgotten

how the constellations rotate

(things you probably think about

every day). Try as we do

tailing Hydra's too tough.

There's always dust

moving somewhere

and we have to check it out.

We know where we are

and there is plenty of room

to be here, too.

Consider the Humboldt Sink

bigger than the Copper Pit

(the world's largest Glory Hole)

or Esmeralda County

where a citizen can wander

bewildered all her life

looking for the Lost Dutchman.

When we lay our dreams

end to end, they don't reach

the horizon, and we've learned

to be content with just that

much less of everything.