Is it wrong to post a paragraph from someone’s essay for no real reason other than to share it? I’m not sure. This passage in Benjamin Kunkel’s “Colorado” chapter in State by State is so killer, though, that I’m going to risk it. I’ve had it in my head since reading it about two weeks ago. Maybe by putting it down here, I’ll get over it and feel like it’s okay to write something of my own even though it will be less lovely. Or maybe I’m just copying it to know what it feels like to type these words!
…”in the pure light like a bright, immaculate wound.” I don’t know why this language of hurt should attach to alpine Colorado, or why, in the best-known version of the traditional song, the man of constant sorrow (“I seen trouble all my days”) should be bound for Colorado (“where I was born and partly raised”). Unless I do know why: The pure light and gin-clear air can’t be matched by your life. They will only put a hurt look into your eyes, whether you stay or go.
I read this line–“The pure light and gin-clear air can’t be matched by your life”–about fifteen times before I was sure I understood. Now that I do, I think I would be too scared to ever venture west to Colorado.