Seeing O’Keeffe’s “Patio Door”
we cannot but think of the tongue,
the tongue on fire. It floats,
as does the oblique darkness of door,
the adobe wall going left,
the sky’s blue mist lifting.
Here is the eye’s ruse, suspension,
the leaf gone green and hot yellow.
The breath. The utter silence.
Nothing grows in this earth
without diligence and cut knuckles.
I nurse broccoli, eggplant,
invoke the Rio Grande,
capture a cup of rainwater
and mete it out meticulously
with cracked and unwashed hands.
Why have you come
and who follows you
and how many new houses
and another paved road
and I’m telling you
I love this place because
so many do not live
here and here and there,
At Malpais I thought the cold would break
my bones. Your charts were useless;
your eyes went blind with the sky’s glut
of stars. You crushed the last glowing ember,
said don’t touch me and I can die now,
why wait for something less than this.
So much snow we telemark
from our front door. The dogs
wander clueless over white
and the neighbor girls pack jars
with snowballs, label them, line
the top of the back yard wall.
They read F-E-B-2-0-0-6 and X
and Meghan says the last one’s
for a miracle, so it never melts.
What the high desert gives to your name:
one more wild chamisa,
the mesa striated with iron-red,
spider-web cracks on the windshield
and the monsoons, finally, one afternoon,
the smell of spruce and creosote
in their wake, all night, saying.
(Originally published in And They Called It Horizon:
Santa Fe Poems, Sunstone Press 2010.)
Valerie Martínez’s six books of poetry include Absence, Luminescent, And They Called It Horizon, and Each and Her (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, PEN Open Book Award, winner of the Arizona Book Award). Her work has been widely published in journals and anthologies. She was the Poet Laureate of Santa Fe for 2008-2010.