Sepulveda Basin Refuge
The lake’s shoreline is covered with them—
snowy egrets, coots and grebes used to the noise
from the large, loud birds out of LAX that manage to fly so high.
A leaf blower scatters dry sycamore leaves along the footpath,
roaring over the only sign of winter in Los Angeles,
and someone’s model airplane whines in the air.
Beer cans, bottles, plastic bags jam a creek below the asphalt trail—
scraps of white paper crumple like tiny cranes in the mud.
A blue heron, wings folded in prayer,
finds a rivulet, rests her leg.
Winter Solstice in the Gorge, 2016
Our myths turn long nights into evergreen cut on grocery store parking lots,
a continent away from thousands of reindeer starving as the Arctic ice dissolves.
Only one star guides the way out to where striped lines follow
diesels lit like Christmas—miles of commerce threading the Mojave.
The longest night spills from a cup of tears I drink through this highway
that weaves between monoliths of an American Stonehenge
propped along the Virgin River’s winding course.
I see her face in the rock at the hour’s cusp—
Freya carrying the sun in her antlers.
She treks the sky, a spinning wheel around our breath,
and seeds the earth on the darkest night with bits of amber.
The sun stands still at dawn on a plateau of Kaibab sediment,
reaches down into gypsum layers, then sandstone pockets to greet
bighorn sheep near river banks who step out of shadow for the new year.
Header photo of great blue heron by Simmons B. Buntin.