racing the dawn

racing the dawn
i throw on layers
swig sips of water
and take the path debbie showed me
gravel crunching under thin-soled sneakers
the day’s first sun
a goldspill
spreading across the land
i attempt to balance
landscape gazing with
ground-gazing (more kinds of rocks than i can count
most of which i’ve not encountered before)
forgive me i tell debbie for taking this
i just wanted to bring it in to show you
i say of a fingernail sized pot shard
who, unlike the others, has
black stripes painted over white slip
1400s or 1600s she tells me
about how old the pot was
a brushing of fingers across time
as i hold it in my palm
they administered an amnesia-inducing drug,
i couldn’t remember the first three days afterword

i asked the doctor to tell me everything steve says
and the doctor said you really want to know
and i said yes
and so he did, he told me what they used to saw apart my ribcage
what everything looked like in there
what it smelled like
regarding the heart valve transplant he underwent months ago
folk devotionals debbie calls the handmade wood crosses
(sunbleached and weather-worn)

left in a pile as big as the church was
(the pueblo church, where the women and children
took refuge, that was firebombed in 1850)
now and then a new priest comes in and says
let’s clean that up
he cut the right foot off of
every boy 10 years or older
liz and debbie describe the conquistador oñate
and there was a huge protest
to the statues of him
put up in el paso
and here
and sure enough
when the statue was finished
overnight someone would come
and chop his foot off
and then it would get reattached
and someone would come by and chop it off again
we laugh (righteously?)
any chance we can at a story that
doesn’t end at tragedy
they point out cook’s piles of gravel
to the east of the low road
talk about how different groups
oppose his harvesting of rock
and smashing it into gravel
destroying petrogplyhs
balding the gorge-sides
we met in the laundry manuel says
to tom and soon the laundry becomes a joke
transforming from a room with a washer and dryer
to the name of a bar or club
it’s a feast day (about san geronimo day at the pueblo) leon says
if someone invites you into their home
dear god, say yes
none of this midwestern oh, no – i just couldn’t

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