South Past Albuquerque, Guided by Rain

Everyone in the car was afraid,
yet we talked about it.

The men came in the night,
then went away in black rain.

It was the empty road to San Miguel,
the curve toward La Union,

the moon forgotten on the road because
it was the path to Kilbourne Hole.

Everyone had a story to tell.
Some got told, some were changed

to keep families alive.
One man spoke about the eagle

that descended at Cuchillo,
bending the tree with its weight,

then flying away with a small
bundle in its claws, the fear

everyone worshipped returning when
the eagle dropped white stones.

We talked about the bird as
we drove south past Albuquerque

guided by the quiet rain.
When it stopped, the road glistened

with the sweat of the storyteller
who is not afraid.





After Reading Octavio Paz

He wants to enter the adobe wall,
disappear into it and dissolve into
the mud as if spirit is dry earth
and the ground is the heart
where everyone was born with
a mark on their foreheads.
He wants to stay inside the wall
until the sun burns a deep color
into his trapped though open hands,
the wave of heat making his hair
stand on end like black snakes that
slithered into the wall to reinforce
what was built, a fountain of dust
raining in the grand room, clouding
over midnight cries and whispers,
the groans and sighs of lost origins
where he used to love.

He is alive between the beams,
the cracked bricks the crumbs
of a god and his meal, the mind
that meets architectural silence
as the corridor of time explodes
into grains of fine sand on his
arms so he can extend the wall
up into the clouds, each thought
opening and shutting the lone
window because the tree outside
walks into the room and spreads
its branches until the four walls
are touched, its reign of green
pushing space apart, his battle
to grasp what the wall desires,
how faster the mud breathes
each time he wants to emerge
and run outside.




Ray Gonzalez is the author of fourteen books of poetry, including six from BOA Editions — The Heat of Arrivals (1997 PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award), Cabato Sentora, The Hawk Temple at Tierra Grande (2003 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry), Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems (2005), Cool Auditor: Prose Poems (2009), and Beautiful Wall (2015).  The University of Arizona Press has published eight books, including Soul Over Lightning (2014) and Turtle Pictures (2001 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry).  His poetry has appeared in the 1999, 2000, 2003, and 2014 editions of The Best American Poetry (Scribners). He is Full Professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Photo of storm over New Mexico highway by Robert Cichetti, courtesy Shutterstock.

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