Whatever this countryside is, it’s not
art for art’s sake. Rises buckle
who knows how from sea floors
we call prehistoric because we
weren’t standing here taking notes.
Crushed shell and coral transformed,
now shed limestone talus and scrabble
in late spring sunlight, a still life
of disintegration, a story set in naked
sediment and eroding fault lines.
Scrub oaks borrow height from hills
along aquifer-fed springs which activate
molecular machinery of prickly pear,
oleander, and spiny lizards down at life’s
basement level in the mist of quarks and gluons.
Placed in adjectival region between vast and slight,
we can’t guess the architect’s meaning behind
this dogged impermanence and temporary solidity.
Lighter than the dust blown down slope into our eyes,
we know only the heft of the sky’s larger frame.
2010 Southwestern American Literature Vol. 35.2