Happy is a real place. On US Interstate 27, it appears as a line of trees on an open plain, and grain elevators rise from its center beside its water tower. In town, I see brick streets and storefronts—some shuttered—and outside of its post office, newspapers sit for sale as measurements of daily life.
A truck moves over a desert landscape beyond a cattle guard and a fence of barbed wire. Its tires rumble over dry caliche flinging dust skyward. In the cab, a country tune fills the air, and a father concentrates on the road. His son draws a pump jack. Soon the two will reach a dill site to deliver a rotary bit.
This place looks used—used hard. (2019)
Four tires hum over asphalt. I see a canyon of limestone covered with desert grasses and patches of prickly pears. From a rearview mirror, an air freshener spins. Ahead, lanes bend and twist toward a roadcut. I scan the dial for music and move over a cement bridge near Lancaster Crossing, a place on the San Antonio to El Paso trail far from the nearest radio station.
Rails enter the downtown, and hotels wait beside Railroad Street. Navasota is a town in the Brazos Valley. Here, I see residential ways and stately homes and, moving outward into the countryside, hear a key of G, 4/4 time and a train on the bridge.