Sunset, June 22

A long walk, enough

to stir the air in the schoolyard

and bring the cats home for milk.


The girl, new whirled on the merry-go-round,

chatters ahead on the sidewalk,

waves her hands up at the cottonwoods.


Up at the corner,

the wind in the trees

sounds like a river.


seas of butterfly peas flutter;

purple, blue swollen petals unfold,

welcome light and warmth in the still of garden


apple blossoms fall soundless across broad shoulders,

cling to the sweater of the gardner as she clips

jonquil, gladiola, from hoards of like blooms


a blanket cast in the tulip bed and lounged upon;

a gardner, fertile and strong, sunglowed, rounded, lithe,

smelling of earth and flower and mown grass


spirea caressing two bodies, sun-warm skin,

breath mulch soft and green cool;

the tulips riot in a breeze, erupt in frenzies of joy


the last time the sky broke like this–

bearded faces wisped in gray,

runways into space where haze becomes earth–

was when we walked dry creeks

into the desert outside of Chinle


cottonwoods rattled in baked haze–

locusts jumped over splintered looms

and into the corners of hogans


evenings, we stuck matches into sagebrush

and dreamed of Navajo blood

pounded into canyon sandstone

by Kit Carson’s rifliers, who fired

like boys at a turkey shoot


we woke to ravens ready to pluck out our eyes

when we weren’t looking–

we climbed onto ponies hitched to medicine men

and we raised hands split rough and empty,

hands tired of fighting anyone and anything


there and then we rode away,

feathers in our hair turned to sunshine



we could smooth puddles tonight

when the temperature reaches zero

with the Zamboni in the Lona Auto parking lot–

the one in front of the mural of Don Diego

kneeling at the feet of the Virgin.


but there’s not much to say

about a Zamboni strayed

and foundered before the Virgin of Guadalupe

in a puddle guarded by broken cars


still, slick ice for the Virgin, Don Diego,

and us to skate tight circles on with shivering dogs

until the sun melts our little paradise

and sends us skittering back home

to sleep off our dream


now, though, in night muffle,

snow rimes the puddle,

ice crystals feather the windshields



the cottonwood and sycamore

give up mats of leaves

on mere suggestion of winter


but the bear pin oak shivers,

bow-backed, full-pelted,

paws up and ready to fight


freeze snow hellish wind

it will take all winter

to skin that tree