Midday azure fades to dusk,
alpenglow calms the Cascades,
paints the clouds iridescent rose,
shadows deepen an icy crevasse.
The sun descends in eternal orbit
beyond Georgia Strait and Vancouver Isle,
its flames hold back the night,
twilight dims my view.
Candescence fuels my heart
with Promethean fire. A breeze
ripples the sea, laps the shore,
calls me to evening prayer.
I drafted “Candescence” in 1997 after spending an evening in Birch Bay, Washington, as the sun set over Vancouver Island, BC, and reflected off the glaciers on the west side of Mt. Baker.
Whatcom Writes!, Bellingham, WA: SunPorch Productions, Summer/Fall 1997.
Selected Poems: Alaska & Northwest, Haines, AK: Yeldagalga Publications LLC, 2013.
A prospector awoke to find his ass
missing in the early morning shadows
of a greasewood shrouded spring
hidden in the barren outcroppings
of the high Nevada desert.
Picking up a rock too heavy to heave,
a rock with weight greater than ought
to be, a rock, if he were to pelt it, would
break his ass, he discovered the state
of Nevada’s second richest silver strike.
According to local legend, Jim Butler was the prospector who made the strike about 1900. Tonopah is derived from the Shoshone language. To-nuv means greasewood and pa means water.
I step from a van at the edge of Taxco, Mexico, onto mountainous paths too steep to drive, onto cobblestone walks away from water falls’ din, away from thunder known by Nahuatl and Zapotec as “where the father of water is,” high in the Sierra Madre Occidental, the “Madre de las montañas” of padres and conquistadors, a silver lode raped by Spaniards, Mexican and Catalan to build Santa Prisca, Catedral de los ancestros.
Here, I marvel at silver trinkets, glistening toys in merchants’ windows, picturesque jewelry crafted by generations of artisans.
Here, I dine on corn, beans and tomatillos, roasted pig, goat cheese and newly carved fowl; here, I drink fermented juices of hillside vines, terrestrial labor of aparcero Mexicana, where incessant winds and Pacific rains erode volcanos, Vulcan gods of Aztecs, Greeks and Romans.
Taxco de Alarcón, Mexico
“Dónde está el padre de agua”: “Where the father of water is.”
“Madre de las montañas”: “Mother of mountains.”
Catedral de los ancestros: Santa Prisca (Cathedral of the Ancients).
Aparcero Mexicana: Mexican sharecropper.