Entre Dos Aguas
Among the perfection of the Biblical seven
and Dante’s nine, you lie there in the sheets,
the lithest sepia late-eighteenth century eight
in the Archive of the Indies, the hand curved
on laid cotton in some fertile praise of the Mississippi
from one honorable servant of the governor.
You govern color, the fuschia bougainvillea,
the pink, the orange of dying fire all hung over
my Sevilla morning walk like new dresses teasing
the ravishing girls to give up their studies and run.
Your figure is classic as the study of a pedestal,
as the anchor rung into song by its own chain,
brown skeins of seaweed waiting in the wind
like the hair of the saddest waitress in Andalucía,
drowsy among the shadows of the orange trees
in the shadow of the abandoned castle
in the shadow of the cathedral and her tower,
tipping her cigarette into siesta’s oblivion.
Her infinite motto: No me ha dejado.
Your hair is the color of the buff rust swallows’
bellies banking above after four days of rain
filling the air and lit from below by the sun
setting on a gentle water, that color, chattering
and scissoring the light into confettied money, banking.
If you are the book I imagine photographers read
to understand the shadow and whet the line,
I am less than a chunk of broken concrete, and you
with all our married years of river waves lapping
might still like a pretty green pebble in me. You free
also the wind inside the water, the aching pulse
that moves the crest, how a song lifts forward
words, waking, making an imaginary wave
pulse like a true fiction’s friction and the verse
of that invisible river between the ocean and the sea.
A stream can form when a river overflows
and splits in two around a freestone island.
Taos, this year, greened in a good monsoon.
This stream’s native browns, some stocked rainbows
this little paradise, will vanish some sly and
quiet night, and the roadside wildflower swoon
will lay aside her purple-blues, dumber
than still water. If tomorrow seems a dry land,
know that the autumn river runs, trout-strewn
enough. Our prayer: snowmelt next summer
Red River (Hatchery)
I always think they’ll stock the river with
a few of the million trout they raise right here.
But mostly, nothing doing. I’d still rank it fifth
among my favorite streams near Taos this year.
They’ve torn away the antiquated dam.
The trout can roam upstream without a flood.
We’ll watch for years to come the traffic jam
of stone and blasted concrete, sand and mud
thin, clarify, the river run its course
within this valley made of stained, vast shoulders
where a golden eagle big as a little horse
makes refuge high in the brutal basalt boulders.
A half mile upstream, tangles of wild rose
cut me. This is where almost no one goes.
John Poch’s most recent book is Fix Quiet (New Criterion Poetry Prize, 2014). He teaches at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He has published poems recently in Yale Review, Image, The Common, and Birmingham Poetry Review.
Jerod Foster is a natural history and travel photographer whose work is used by various outlets and organizations such as Texas Highways, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, The New York Times, the Nature Conservancy, and the Bullock State History Museum of Texas. He is the author of seven books on photography education and is an associate professor of practice in the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University.
All photos by Jerod Foster except photo of John Poch, by Todd Murphy, and photo of Jerod Foster, by Hayden Denny.