William Waltz
Baker, Montana

When you arrive in the Badlands, you’re close. When oil derricks hang their dark exclamations over the crumpled earth and horses gather in the night clearing, moonlight rippling in their eyes like spoons of milk, the town line nears. Open your doors to Medicine Rock and you’ve gone too far. It’s hard not to do out west.

 

Dust meets morning over Baker Lake, too brown for bullheads and dough balls but not too dead to try.

 

I don’t know why Dusty Baker is Dusty Baker. I don’t know why anyone is anyone. I do know we all come from somewhere bittersweet, more cocoa than confection, a place that squats in our cells long after we’ve moved on and Dusty waited on deck for Hank Aaron to come home.

 

The flag flying over Baker is a cloud of prehistoric dust, part Bitterroot, part Yellowstone, part mastodon, part radio transmission.