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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.

                                                --Psalm 17

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