the source

the bright blue
of the mountain bluebirds swirling
about a puddle of water
in the red dirt parking lot
and how i cannot stop watching
the brilliant streaks of them
as they move through the light
it looks like a prison jan says
of the razor wire
coiled atop the fences
of the wastewater treatment plant
whose cylinders and rectangles of builidings
all appear a beige-orange
with black block letters to indicate
what’s inside
the five-gallon bucket that bobbe finds
lodged into the sand
that is sometimes a river,
and all the plastic bottles, straws, toothpaste tubes we fill it with
and the fact that we easily could have filled at least five more

how this sense of discovering
is light, with plenty of moments for joking/laughing
and how the same items
(sun-shredded backpacks, a toothbrush, a tshirt)
carry a different weight
in the arroyos of the borderlands
she takes on her meander again bobbe says
about the river once
outside the city
was a meanderer before it was industrialized

one tooth still intact
yellowy against the bright white of
the rest of the skull
how i carry it with me for some length of the river
and then place it in a pile of leaves

the source bobbe says, nodding
in the direction of the saddles and peaks
of the sangres
of the river

smells like benzene jan says
her nose tucked into her collar
as we hover around the effluent
from the water treatment plant
at the place where it flows into
the santa fe river
a confluence

and this, it is imporant to be noted, is what my notes say about benzene:
with exposures from less than five years
to more than thirty years, individuals
have developed and died from leukemia.
long term exposure may affect bone marrow
and blood production.
short term exposure to high levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, uncounsciousness and death

how the asters turn
into an explosion of stars
bobbe says
pointing to a bush of
dried yellow star-shapes


beaver deceiver is what she calls the
metal cage-like forms
in the effluent wetlands
and tells us how they obstruct the beavers
from being able to build a complete dam

roadside, we touch the thin deep red tamarisk branches
whose fluffy sheddings kill everything around it
due to their salt content
yet another moment of
the thing i have read about
coming to life
and then, there’s also the russian olive
that i mistake for a willow
but its two inch spiky thorns
give it away

the fuzzy blooms of a plant called winter fat
that the birds feed on
in the colder seasons
from up here, among the petroglyphs
the view of the sangres
and everything else that spreads out before them
this is what i came here for
this is what feeds me
the smell of a few small sprigs
of tender mountain sage
tucked into my front jacket pocket
from the water world:

Christian Orthodox priests re-enact the baptism of Jesus, during the traditional Epiphany baptism ceremony at the Qasr-el Yahud baptism site in the Jordan river near the West Bank town of Jericho. – voice of america, day in photose


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