No light reaches the bottom,
so I can’t see what’s there, and
I can’t or won’t venture leaning for
a peek, its sides all mossy and slick.
If I fell again, I might not return.
I, a water witch for woe dug it,
led to its depths by a bending switch
of willow, each of us weeping,
but unbending in the joy of our
dark and damp discoveries.
I’ve kept all my memories within
this subterranean cylinder,
recollections of my collection
of people, places, feelings and
the compost of them all.
I drop my bucket and haul up
often muddy melanges, toss them
at this wall, and pray the mixed
what-was might express a what-is.
Sometimes I call down and listen
for the hollow return of my words,
each dripping with the mire of my life.
Occasionally, though, I’ll hear your voice,
something I thought lost at the bottom
where I left you, thinking I might forget you.
But no, it just takes longer for our echoes
to twine and climb the frayed rope
here in the well of never-never.
I can only imagine standing
on that dusty road, looking toward
the jagged Sangre de Cristo, some
shining at the top in snow and clouds
like I wear this silver upon my head.
In my mind I can smell the earthy breath
of those greasewood brush waves
in muted shades of grey and green
with maybe a pinch of purple, and
how they can burst into flame at sunset,
and never once catch fire.
But I’ve stood next to my mountains,
old and some hunch-shouldered
from bearing millennia of ocean, ice
and the cutting tools of Man.
They’re where a sea of evergreens
laps against sun-flashed slashes of lakes,
each another window with views of skies
of blue, white and even the cool flames
of sunset to the west, out where
the greasewood waits to cut shadows
so sharp they once more
bleed red the Sangre de Cristo.
This piece was somewhat inspired by the photographs my friend, the writer Leland Dirks, posts daily on his Facebook page. He lives in southern Colorado within dreaming distance of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost range of the Rockies. Sangre de Cristo is Spanish for “Blood of Christ.” Leland has generously allowed me use one of his brilliant photos to illustrate this piece.