We Called it Emptiness

the trucks arrived. They must have kept the music in their voices as they welded together the poles, building high the first tower. The old couple shook their heads. The first tower wobbled on its new legs, and all the while they’d slept, seeing only the soft gold light of some dream.


From the fields where he grew the grasses, Bill didn’t see the first tower rise. News of the CREZ lines, the route they would follow south, slipped past Junction unnoticed, a quick wind rushing through the trees. Winter came and a raw coldness settled in the hills. The mesquite trees grew and bent into one another, and from the highway their bare limbs could have been the stripped frames of a thousand abandoned houses.
It was January when Andy took the white van south to Junction. At first, he counted the lattice towers he saw off the highway, but then grew tired of watching them coil above the dead cotton, their cables fitted to hooks like joints in sockets.
Bill waved from the porch when Andy pulled into the driveway. They shook hands, clapping each other on the back. They pulled chairs outside and sat beneath an old mesquite. The chairs creaked and the house behind them shifted with the wind.

Andy set the tape recorder on his chair and clicked the red light on. “I had to get frost off my windshield this morning,” he said. “But now the day’s awfully pleasant.”
“That’s right. The sun’s pouring down on top of us.” “I should preface this,” Andy said. “Okay, this is Andy Wilkinson. I’ll be visiting with Bill Neiman at his Native American Seed Company Farm, so any time you need to shut this off and take a break or if you have a question or want to clarify, just let me know.”
Bill didn’t want anything clarified or to take breaks or to ask questions. He talked for two hours.
He said the CREZ lines came to Junction through a letter in the mailbox. The LCRA was hosting an open house—some come as you go, cookies and beverages thing—to discuss the construction of power lines set to carry renewable energy.
Bill folded the letter and put it back with the envelopes of electric bills and credit card companies. He marked a note on the calendar and circled it to remember because sure, he’d go. Renewable energy that could clean up the grid—he’d listen.
He had been listening since the first turbine unfolded its blades in the panhandle. He listened as the mesas were capped white and people gave the turbines every sort of name. Some called them ghosts, the latest form of industry haunting the Llano Estacado. Others half-joked