Friday, August 31, 2007

Summer Journal

I remember the grim Navajo staring
     coldly at me, the red mesas
jutting up from the desert and distant
     like the planets. To reach
out and touch one, a meteor
     in the midsun on a Tuesday
when everything was too common
     but the intruder. The stark
waterless breeze dusted the windshield.
     I could hear whimpering
in the rocks where the ancient ones withered.

               The buds belch out
     a kind of stickiness
that leaves an aftertaste in their droppings.
     The sensuousness of the heat
is deceptive—a groin feeling that repeats
     and repeats and seems to weaken
in the moonlight because it has too
     much to recall. I could smell
the black waters under the clay.
     The red mornings, the red
mountains, the green rainstorms
     in the east where the lakes bloat
are flesh scented from so many
     passings.

I keep a blue bottle with
     a paper flower, a yellow
swirl on a pipe cleaner bursting
     from the inanimate
decay of leftovers. I think of an oak
     impregnated with minerals
until it is perfect stone. All
     things solid and spiritual
that die out and go on—
     the Hohokam, the people who
have gone, from the pit houses of
     the Gila basin to
the mountains to the heavens to
     the boulevards where their spirits
are encrusted with rubber and seem
     to have lost their inheritance.
The worn-down teeth of the Pueblo
     who could not separate
the sand from the grain, the ancient ones,
     the Anasazi, who held
the black waters in their palms
     and shivered from the deepness
of such despair.

                            The beach house
     romances, the dusk, the evenings
on the porch, the stick figures
     in the petroglyphs
lost in the slashes, our feet whispering
     because it was best not to speak . . .
I remember the slow-moving waters
     of the swamp—the windswept
surface of the saw grass studded
     with hummocks of palms and willows—
the dark cypress death tree . . .
     as if symbols were necessary.
The wet planks of the pier vibrated
     as I sniffed the rot. I could smell
the white man in me, the oak, the yucca,
     the incomprehensible waters
flowing over my wrists.

(This poem appeared in College English.)

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