Monday, June 20, 2016

Impressions of Silence

Things are different at the would-be rivers
Of the wash, where the stones hold memories
Of water that came when it willed.

The grass bows in stillness,
Moths follow,
Birds are not heard but seen.

What green there is clings to the hillside
This summer’s eve,
Most everything dead:
The golden shrubs
And orange stalks,
Holly stiff with berries.

Life is in the shade,
In snake craters,
Oak torsos,
Cobwebs on prickly pear curled like fists,
Where I too have disappeared
Nestled in agave dagger,
Ruthless branches,
Cactus congestion
Lizards run through like blood.

White jacaranda slowly rusts
But otherwise has nothing to say.

Suddenly wind buzzes the valley,
Cicadas waver, the scrub jay creaks,
Creatures whisper, crack in the breeze;
A motorboat whir of birds in thickets,
Purring of crickets
In antelope grass and desert sage.

Then in a rush of silence
The real work commences:
A reminder
On the ridgeline
How the limestone ranges ascend into deeper dimensions;
Even the grass conversations are mute
But occasionally one will tap on my elbow
As the cloud patterns cross the valley’s patches
Releasing the long grass to white.

A buzzard hovers at the halfway point
Between the heavens and earth—
Alone with no need to speak.

I make one sound and the doves skitter off,
Lizards sizzle,
A coachwhip slithers,
Grasshopper diagonals fly pleadings
But the grasses again hold their tongues.

Are we here to project our greatness outward,
Or teach as we stumble to learn,
Or voice our compassion for the glamping others,
Or are we here to observe?
On this stone plateau
The campground sounds like the river
That once was here.

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