· They drain the San Antonio Riverwalk once a
year. They tell you it’s shallow, only three feet deep, but no matter how much
you stare you cannot see the bottom. They’ve found prosthetic limbs in the
You’ve been driving for hours. Surely you’re out
of state lines by now, you tell yourself. But the scenery hasn’t changed at
all, and the sky has long turned dark. You can’t remember the last town you
There are lights above Marfa. People come from
far and wide to see them, but we don’t talk about them. We don’t talk about the
lights above Marfa- they listen. We don’t want them to hear us.
We don’t sing “Deep in the Heart of Texas”
because it’s a tradition. We sing it to keep it sated. Because deep in the hill
country, if you stand still enough, you can feel a deep, steady throb beneath
You hear screams in the heavy heat of summer
nights. Your mother tells you that it’s nothing but the wind, but you don’t
believe her. There hasn’t been wind in months.
The heat is sticky and heady against your skin,
even in the dead of night. “Sure is hot this summer,” your mother says. Her
eyes are glassy, and her teeth grind together as she stares out into the
distance. “Sure is hot.”
There are tunnels beneath San Antonio. They
connect the missions to San Fernando Cathedral. They’ve long been closed off-
no one goes in the tunnels. No one wants to go in the tunnels.
The grackles are waiting in the grocery store
parking lot. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of them- they scream into the
sky and watch you as you pack away your groceries.
The ground has cracked into dusty plates. There
are children that have never seen rain. You don’t remember the last time it
rained. A lot of people say it never will again.
Basements are banned. The ground is too dry,
they say. It’ll crack your foundation. But you know why they’re banned.
Everyone knows why. But we must forget.
The forest is deep, so very deep. You walk on,
but all you find is a roofless hut filled with shotgun shells. There are claw
marks on the wall, on the ground. You scuff at them with your shoe.
Off the highway, decaying farmhouses stand like
gray smudges against the blue sky. The cattle graze around them, away from
them. The grass around them is dead.
Don’t Mess with Texas. Texas remembers. Texas is
You don’t watch the heat waves that rise off of
the gravel. Look forward. Look forward. Keep driving.
The epicenter of the art world is in Marfa, Texas? @theartassignment visits this small town where Minimalist artist Donald Judd settled in the 70s, and sowed the seeds for its glorious present, worthy of a pilgrimage.