More Arizona Words & Photos

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More Arizona Words & Photos

Reservation Time

 

A pickup truck moves faster than history

in these wildflower days

along a road through country

that remembers the jaguar

and ocelot.

It has somewhere to be,

 

a future to reach

before summer, with a full tank

of gas and no time

to pull over and look

 

at what the first priests saw

when they stopped with tiny stones

in their sandals

to bless each plant

before they knew its name

 

to catalog and claim it

for eternity.

A Yard in Ajo, Early Morning

 

                                         These things

                         astonish me beyond words

                         - William Carlos Williams

 

Drops of finch-red balance

on the power line

dipping above the alley

to the west,

                   while quail

attentively investigate the ground

they cross to reach the yard

whose desert willow casts

morning shade across agave

soon to bloom.

                        An ant

smaller than the letters

moves across a page

of William Carlos Williams

open to words

                       generously spaced

to let them pass. Cactus wrens

chortle in the oleander. Doves

who introduced themselves

from far away

fly to pole-tops and proclaim

their presence there.

                                 Between

flecks of light on bark

a lizard descends, then bends

and straightens his forelegs

to raise his eight-inch torso

above stones,

                     and away

from light a Bronzed cowbird’s

red eye buttons

the shadows down.

 

The Road Beside the Border

 

This is the road of laughing stones

beneath the wheels of cars that visit for a day

lying quietly and close

to clouds that soften ridges

cut from rhyolite.

                             It bends around the o

in ocotillo, and thins to a whisper

near Lukeville, where traffic

bears the names of Tresguerras, Lala, Castores

and Frio Express from Hermosillo

to Baja California.

                              It listens to the music

from a radio that carries

on cold air across

the iron fenceposts, while a raven

on a Mexican saguaro barks

                                                above the noise

toward a raven in Arizona. How

insignificant the fence appears

that crawls up one slope and trickles

down another

                       from where a bobcat

stops to look. When the highway

on the other side is spurred

to hurry by an untranslatable growl,

the road to Quitobaquito

                                       is the one

that walks.

Organ Pipe Checkpoint

 

When the officer asks

                          Are you a citizen?

the answer isn’t easy

to articulate. It’s been

eleven thousand years since the ice cap

receded for mesquite

to grow here, and six thousand

five hundred later the Organ pipe

appeared. The oldest

mountains have been worn

down to what they are

by sixty million years of weather

while the plates beneath them

shifted. It all

               made a place where the Cactus wrens

could nest among thorns

and scrape against silence with their calls.

There’s a green light today

growing out from where the earth cracks.

Every vista here

                      ends long ago,

too far away

for anyone to call it home.

 

Dawn to Dusk

 

The shadow cast

at first light slides

into  the gap between the two

white rock formations

below Silver Peak

where junipers and oaks

absorb it.

             Hours flow

downslope while grosbeaks

sing in the ash tree

and the slowly circling vultures

rise toward noon.

                       Lizards' minutes

run across the rocks

as time drips deeper

into the mineshafts

whose mouths open among

sparrows and scrub.

                         Sit a while

in the yard among oranges

where tanagers come to feed

until the mountain

glows as if the light

comes from inside it,

                            before

the calm snaps

when the skunk grubbing

for insects with his tail

held signal high

runs between your legs

as you manage to grab

hold

      of the dog intent

on chasing it.

 

Silence

 

The fire burned down in the stove

and a silence descended

 

around us while we slept.

It occupied each frozen limb, spread

 

evenly across the ground,

and even Silver Peak became

 

a whisper in the forest's ear.

Two deer

 

came to listen

to the buried language

 

from the time before

the animals were named.