#78 Taos, New Mexico by Don McIver

Gritty dark brown earth imbedded in my cheek snaps me awake.
My bike looks fine.
Nothing’s broken, but my head, my spinning head, says,
“Keep looking.  What happened?”
A hillside trail winds across a ridge above Taos.

Maybe Georgia O’Keeffe saw this spot, but I doubt she saw it like I see it now?

Spinning head, the sudden quick shift of my bike spinning out below me,
dumped me into the ground.
Blood seeps out of my scrapes as beads then slow winding rivulets down my legs.

From the distance of my eyes inside my head
my right thigh, hip, love handle, lats, and shoulder
look as if a bear had raked 4 claws down my side.

The “tear-proof” map is torn:
A long scrape and then a dime-sized hole.
Maybe Georgia O’Keeffe saw this spot, but I doubt she saw it like I see it now?

Down the front, about the size of my middle finger, my helmet is broken.
The outer plastic bruised, then cracked, then split as the styro-foam is crushed into pieces,
broken from an impact I don’t remember, but can’t forget.

In legend, Georgia O’Keeffe claimed these hills as her own,
put canvas on easel and smeared rivulets of oil, acrylic,
colors as radiant as chili peppers, crying suns, turquoise, and onyx.

These hills of jagged borders of crushed pottery, Kokopelli lawn art, and radiation symbols
become smashed helmets, bloody lines of red down pink flesh.
As the car, 20 miles away, means I’ve got lots more to ride today.

Georgia O’Keeffe saw this spot, made these colors her own on canvas.
As I dripped blood into soil I hope I never see so close again.

Don McIver is the Co-Artistic Director of the Local Poets Guild, a former ABQ poetry slammer, a public radio host, author of The Noisy Pen, and editor of UNM Press’ A Bigger Boat. He’s performed at/produced poetry events and published in numerous magazines and anthologies.


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