Counting the things I’ve been given,
Or stumbled over, or found —
Each moving like tumbled amethyst
Over my fingers, clicking as I tell:
The scent of slow-thaw spring
Dogs and drums
A ring of gray stub-oaks,
Bounded on the southeast by a chortling creek.
A sun-splattered kitchen I stalk through,
Reading Pinsky aloud from a book
That floods my palms, overspills poems.
Dangerous angels, fingers of fire,
Tongues of flame that pause in their flickering,
Where I’m from, people still put stock in rainmakers.
Afternoon sunshowers — flowers loaned droplets
Paying interest in exuberances of gold
(brittlebush, bladderspot, mariposa lily
cane cactus, blazing star, senna, spiny daisy)
Why must it always be the One Shining Thing
Or a life spent looking for it?
I had a sleeper’s childhood, nothing like a poet’s,
And I don’t remember dreams
So much as a series of slow awakenings
To sagebrush, seraphim, percussion,
Brief, mad bloomings,
And the muted click of semi-precious stones
Passing one across another.
I went through a period of about 10 years in which the well went dry; I wrote only two poems between 1993 and 2005 that were worth keeping. This is one of them.
After graduate school, I returned to the semi-desert part of Colorado I’d done some undergraduate work in and fallen in love with. Desert flowers and a months-long assessing of my life to that point gave birth to this poem.