What a pale river the Milky Way is: a feast of stars, our eyes made to swallow it up. This night, in the unblinking quiet, the hush of desert sighs, we’ll let the piñon crackle: the sweet dark of its smoke, emerging from fire, a deep-scented rise to the rafters. Oh, watch it thick the air, fill the clay & wood beams of our casita. None can find us here, beyond the walls: an island in this cold, silent sand.
NOWHERE BUT HERE
Today, I’ll taste green fire: a five-alarm heat, too juicy and sweet to un-curve my lips. Yes, I’ll let it knead each taste-bud, brine my tongue like dragon’s breath, make my heart ready: match it to smoke, to guttural voice, let me grow new teeth and I can slurp down one’s courage, too. I’d suck on this succulent south-west spice for life, it can even quench a throat parched for home: just takes a bit of corn bread, it will tame enough to swallow. Then walk the streets this cold, winter night. Lung-made icicles hang ornamental, in twilight air, a lunar spell. Have you ever seen a moon-sister rise up, over Santa Fe? Her own dusk a mountain skirt, a flirting wink of her shadow. What art lines this canyon, a low, quiet, deep, heard only here. A scene of lit pueblos lining the street, the farolitos glowing like fireflies. I wish to say how you can miss, be homesick for, a place you’ve just discovered.
GHOST RANCH AND BEYOND
Pale sentinels, old as time, stand here: tower over us, not a sound on midday air. Across the way, how O’Keeffe’s mountain stares, peak chopped off, brooding. I learn that here, in the paint-colored desert, ghosts rise from mist. Later, we are winding down sheer cliffs, hugging a tight curve, down into the belly. See the footsteps of ancients, an old shelter, water: the essence of life. Visit a chamber carved with nature’s very own two hands, and a voice will speak from within the knapped rock. Storm coming. Risk. Do we turn back? A mouth full of sand: we run, treading the moonscape. At last, a sky wide open. What I would give to stay in its yawning, an endless blue, stretching on beyond itself, atop the desert Mesa.
About these poems, Jesse said, "These poems were inspired by my time in New Mexico. D.H. Lawrence expressed it well, saying: 'In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to new.'"
Jesse Holth a freelance writer and editor based in the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Marathon Literary Review, Silver Birch Press, Canada Quarterly, Barzakh Magazine, the University of Regina Press, and others. She was a 2017 Pen 2 Paper poetry finalist, and is currently working on two full-length collections.