Guest artist: Nancy Ryan

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, May 2010.

Up Steps

Before I knew this mesa. This cusp,
This baked potato skin earth,
Cracked from working, dust smooth from hard winters
There was water, abundance, a natural migration of animals.
The rabbit cheeked seed slowly, the snake lazed on a beam
Until time to slide over to where the Phoebe nest
Shone with eggs. Can snakes eat moons, clear their throats?
Cows slurped in the monsoonal ponds,
Gramma grass tall wherever calliche and granite
Rolled, settled, bound by their weight and age.

I feel that way today, waking from a dream of estuaries
I stalked a green heron on all fours, digging into
Sand so fine, I thought it might take me home
To the other side, where swimming is daily bread
And the milky mysteries of sea creatures a new
Kind of seeing, instead of lying here trying to drill
The desert dark of familiarity into familiar pieces
With edges and curves, particulars where all steps
Are approached from the up side.

Nancy Ryan, 78,  lives off the grid, on a windy cusp of Tres Orejas in northern New Mexico with husband, Jim, 16-year-old big black Bella cat,  gardens beset and the spirit of her dog, Annie, whose pale shadow brings poems to seed all droughts. In her youth, Ryan’s poems appeared in Antaeus, the Paris Review and Open Places.
 
 
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About Diana Rico

Check out her fabulosity at http://www.dianarico.com.
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