Making Silent Stones Speak
Picture Rocks Canyon: Paisley
scarlet bandana caught on gray thornbush
sprouting from naked rock. Lavender-
blooming ironwood, swift
zebra-tailed lizards and always
the cactus wrens for company.
If you sit
where basalt layers first enter
the canyon, clear your mind, focus
on nothing, you'll discover
a faint figure pecked
in black patina: Elongated
body, arms upraised, feet planted firmly
but groundmass. Nearby,
other smooth outcrops, circles
and loops, squares and rectangles: Messages left
by archaic writers. How many hundred times
have you trudged by
without stopping, intent
on completing the loop trail–a metaphorical
circle beginning and ending
in your room?
Note to self: If it is the journey
that matters and not
the arbitrary destination, then remember
the magic in this impromptu stop.
And before you leave place your hand
on the petroglyphs, acknowledge
the spark leaping artist to artist and making
silent stones speak.
Cracking the Code
Starting out, hard pavement consumes
wishes and hopes—polarizes, compresses
emotion: Too little time to make space
for us. Too little time
to make changes. The burning
tragedy of too little time.
Itinerant workers prune
our old willow, revealing boles bending
in opposite directions: north toward
the mountains, south toward the light.
The gardener pontificates,
arms waving. One plant thrives. Another
dies. It's all about
roots: shoving between pebbles, cobbles,
boulders and sand, poking, prying, reaching, gripping,
sucking moisture, thrusting caliche aside, leaching
precious nutrients from clay and rock. Interstices
yield wiggle room–tiny hairs, sensitive
as mole whiskers, send coded messages to probing
root tip and anchor elegant saguaro standing, arms uplifted
to sun and stars, to air and rain, tomorrow
and today–unflinching. It's about roots.
I lock the door on the double-dreaming
past, on flashy simplicity, aloof
contemporary fare, temporary decor damnably
full of faux everything–
a single row of pictures and understated
wallpaper in a sky-lit room, subliminally
pandering to the adolescent sexuality
in time-worn allegories. Locking the door's
a grassroots movement that leaves no trace.
Action creates uneasiness, but who doesn't love
the raw power, the erotic asymmetry
of starting over?
When Jeanette MacDonald Reigned in the Kitchen
A winter evening in '62.
My sister, sixteen–the trailing edge
over dishwashing, knit sleeves pushed up, lifts
a handful of bubbles from the sink
and sends them soaring
on drifts of song: "O sweet mystery
of life at last I've found you."