HOUSE AT OTOWI BRIDGE
Wooden bridge suspended between
cement abutments has survived, while
the adobe restaurant run by a woman
with help of a San Ildefonso man has not,
where Oppenheimer would come to talk,
away from what was going on up the hill.
If conversation ever crossed the boundary
between a woman alone in the desert
and a man's obligation to government,
it was she who could see, each day
from where she sat, the interweave
of twisted steel supporting planks that
brought him to her door in a blinding sun.
Oppenheimer followed through even with
doubts, and she day by day accepted more
help from the one who had always lived
on a dark and turmoiled river.
The restaurant's gone, torn down when
they put in a new highway to Los Alamos,
no longer any reason to be remote, unknown.
From the new bridge, I spy two wooden
crosses inside a crumbling roof and wall.
Not the graves of two who ran a restaurant
in this unlikely place, but a monument that
transcends time and space.
Appeared in Malpais Review and the book So Bright to Blind
DEER DANCE TAOS PUEBLO
A Pueblo woman stretches her hand
from the circle to skins draped
on dancers as they pass by, her
gnarled fingers stroking wet musky
fur of fresh antelope and deer.
Each time she reaches past my shoulder
I feel my grandmother’s swollen fingers
in my waist-length hair, twisting
it high on my head in summer,
sunburned ends red against
winter black strands, or when
sun dipped to the bay's horizon,
Ordelia at the dining room window
starching white blouses till cotton
scratched like sand of July beaches.
It's the movement of her hands braided
with the rhythm of this Christmas day,
the dance of old hands as they reach
into dark hair and fresh skin.
Appeared in Caprice, the anthology They Recommend This Place,
and the book Wildwood
YOU WILL FIND NO IMPURITY
Weigh my heart, summon me by night,
melt me down; you will find no impurity in me.
It is not myself that I speak of,
but the land which I traverse,
the land which I inhabit.
I have lived in extremes.
And, if there is one criticism of me
that may be valid, down so deep,
as to be inseparable from soul,
it is that I am a risk taker.
I lack timidity, reticence,
as the bay I lived on lacked control
over the moon that shifted tides from
bulkhead to the edge of fifth sandbar.
It may have been more than five,
but more seems not to matter when there
is the muck between the risen land
under a sea to traverse, such that the act
of Moses required no imagination as a child:
we witnessed it twice a day.
Or, the desert cliffs I have walked for years,
not surprised that they contain the remains
of a sea, but that the fascination continues,
such that when I saw a painting on a wall
of a gallery last spring, larger than what
the remaining uncovered walls where I reside
can hold, I not only remember the answer,
but the intricate details of the telling:
a nautilus, a chamber, which was found inside
a baculite, for which the mesa east is named,
which when the artist asked about the color
best to paint, the answer was red, because in
the land of Sangre de Cristos we have become
accustomed to red. The artist, instead,
chose the other side of the color spectrum:
she chose blue.
Appeared in Contrarywise: An Anthology and the chapbook Going into Exile