There is your answer, where the stones are kept
A woman wearing a bandanna
is praying from the front pew of a church.
She is thinking of the same things again,
a deserted home with a fallen chimney,
the chest high remains filled with cement,
her father pulling railway ties from the mouth of the soil
with no need for language or help
even as the sky strained the moon and stars from night.
She was shuffling stones in her hand
beneath creek water,
with the pocket on her dress still unworn.
There was someone saying,
sometimes the stones need to find you.
Photograph by Teri Talpe
Staring to the Bend in the River and All What You’ll Leave Behind
What I am on your skin,
in the air where your voice treads
as calm as brown lies in Copper Canyon,
is amnesia waking.
Here, there is the death of mothers
and the blankets they felt you needed around you,
trying to comfort you into repenting, each time
I reminded you of your nakedness.
And whatever is concealed
beneath the pleated drapes in black ink
or the burning scarves wrapped around your neck,
you will no longer feel
because it is December
and the tides of sunlight are perforated,
loosening across the dreams you keep
for the waters around the bend to hear.
And if you jumped in the alluvial of dusk
that dances as the cunning plexus of a gypsy does,
you wouldn’t scream or yell for help jokingly,
as children do to gain attention.
Photograph by John Higgins
Printmaking by Nels Johnson
Don’t wait for me to come to you. Winds
blow in from the west
and I move east into a deep timber
where Chinook winds feed me
my own heat and flames
over and over. Out of myself,
bound to the course of chance,
embers spread crowning treetop by treetop.
I want you to know I can’t control myself
and I wouldn’t want this
ever to change. I wonder why I have to tell you this,
maybe, like me, you believe
no matter how uncontrollable or vicious a nature is,
living in harmony by what it was designed for
is true innocence. I can ruin this world.
Scorching the broad green and brown
bands of forest. Splitting
the old and diseased trees by my throw
of heat. I stampede through weavings
of waterlogged douglas fur and ponderosa pine.
They die loudly, an excruciating
crackling and popping till the fibers of
douglas fur woods and ponderosa pine needles
begin melting, leaking into the hardening
arteries of earth. But I cannot make promises,
winds recede and the rains come along with
your chainsaws, Pulaskis and shovels
cleaning a wide and empty line of forest
to a floor of dirt in front of me.
It is possible to be starved
and not even notice. If the winds held onto me
I would be free. They would blow me up again
into a hysterical spiral and loop
to show I would never want to return earth
back to seedlings and bulbs.
Nevertheless, if I should ever be asleep
I hope for dreams of winds and trees.