Such a Day

On a day when the desert potholes
are full of pollywogs and tiny
red-speckled frogs and the blue sky
is dappled with pink-bellied clouds,
and the San Juan is running muddy
and warm, well, you don’t have to have almost just died
to realize how lucky you are to be alive—
nope, it just comes natural, this wanting
to kiss your children, even though
they are whining all day about how
the desert is just full of rocks
and it’s so boring. Yeah, it just kind of happens,
this flash flood of gratitude, this falling in love
with everything dust can do.

Gas Station Eucharist

Not at all like the body and blood
of Christ, this Diet Pepsi and bag
of Barbara’s Jalapeño Cheese Puffs,
but I take it in, feeling blessed
despite the fact that I have seen
what cola will do to an engine.
Perhaps that is what I am hoping
for—the kind of god that will
scour me at the same time
as I lick my fingers and hunger
for more.

In the Garden

What a gift
to kneel
in the dirt
and search
the heart-shaped leaves
for the long
and slender green
of beans,
at how straight
they are, how
green, marveling
as if
the way
they grow
could not only
feed us
but save us.

If you must know, I was scared,
running above tree line in a snowstorm,
unable to see more than twenty feet in front
of my slipping feet. And no one else around.

So why did I keep running? Was it courage?
Determination? Stubborn foolishness?
When the story ends happily ever after,
it is easy to forget there was another possible ending,

but sometimes these alternate worlds
invite themselves into our thoughts,
strange tides of what if? and what then?
Though they are unpleasant, I welcome them.

Why not? I am safe, and they are like
the mean girls, the ones who say the cruelest things,
but because there is no truth in what they say,
it’s not so hard to just nod my head and smile.

This Morning

watching the cloud
at the base of the mountain
fill with light

when I look away
eleven years have passed


It’s always something else
we wish would save us—

the right words, for instance,
especially spoken on the right lips.

Or perhaps the temporary shine
inside the generous glass of wine.

And if not that, then friendship.
Or an altar. The sun or a song or a kiss.

But somehow in our hearts
there is always an empty chair,

some sense that someone or something
else is supposed to be here,

even if the room is light. Even when
the rightest words are found.

Even if the wine tastes of melon and grass.
Oh that emptiness. That emptiness

is a chance to ask ourselves, really ask,
who is the one who thinks she needs

to be saved? Sometimes I watch her
slip right through the cracks.

She takes her cross with her,
her books, her prayer mat,

her musts, her beads, her shame,
and what remains is everything.

You need not fear the night, my child.
Evening comes to everything.
It finds the raspberries by the road,
it finds the rabbit in her hole.
It finds the river and all its swells.
The evening comes to everything.

As silently as the rainbow bends
the evening comes to everything.
And the roadrunner stops his running
and the honey bees stop their buzzing
and the rattlesnakes stop their sunning
as the evening comes to everything.

As dark and graceful as raven’s wings,
the evening comes to everything.
Even the raindrops as they are falling,
and the Rosa woodsii as it’s blooming
and the wily raccoon who goes exploring,
yes, the evening comes to everything.

I used to fear the darkness, too,
and prayed all night for morning.
But feel how evening holds the world—
the animals, the boys, the girls,
the moms, the dads, the plants, the birds,
it holds us together, our differences blur—
oh, evening come to everything.

*An R poem for Lian Canty’s Alphabet Menagerie


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