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Ars New Mexico

It wasn’t easy
leaving that place in the bend of the Missouri,
where Fontenelle Forest gave us wild turkeys, a groundhog,
the cardinals whose songs echoed tree to tree,
and the deer that bedded down beneath the windows.
The raccoon that grabbed my bare leg
when I was eating a sandwich
on the front deck probably misses me.

We gave it up,
that place in the shadows where sound
from the stand of pines surprised us with windy days,
where autumn rapped our roof with acorns and walnuts,
and later snow sifted through the branches like summer’s milkweed.
That world kept us; determined what we could see.

It was Maynard Dixon, you know.
His “Open Range” at the Joslyn was one of our favorites.
We liked how desert mesas served up thunderheads
piled gray and lavender into the top of the frame, where
in the foreground, a cowhand turned to check on them.
It was being able to see what was coming from far off,
and it was the light,
the way it delivered distances; pocketed shadows.

Forests are claustrophobic.

By day, the only bit of sky was through an opening
in the leaves where at day’s end they framed
a Maynard Dixon cloud hanging over the river.
And, for a few minutes before ducking behind the far ridge,
the sun reaching under the oak and walnut branches,
pushed the shadows aside, reached up the grassy slope
before darkness overcame us.

Who wouldn’t want to see the day unfolding as it came to you?
Who wouldn’t go for the light?

John Hicks is a narrative poet whose work has been published or accepted for publication by: Valparaiso Poetry Review, I-70 Review, Ekphrastic Review, Glint Literary Journal, Midnight Circus, Panorama, Mojave River Review, and others.  He writes in the thin air of northern New Mexico.  


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