Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh, To Never See Cortez Again

Clouds are crashing
against the jagged mountain skyline.
Ice on the wind rattles the blackjack pine
and the forest sings with a susurrant waving of boughs.

Puffed white against cobalt blue
cumulonimbus underbellies stretch darkly
with the promise of snow.
The mountain receives them, impaling and holding them
until the vellum of mist rips
spilling the gift of moisture onto the cold dry rocks.

A mile below in thevalley
rain is tapping on fogged windows.
The gently pinging litany of the drizzle
is the prayer of hope for Spring flowers.

It is this cycle that engorges each wash
with rock crushing water
cascading into shallow streams
swelling finally into the green river
that once ran to the Sea of Cortez.

But the sea no longer tastes the snowmelt.
Red canyons are drowned behind concrete dams.
Now the moisture is scattered helplessly into the air
above the thirsty creosote and sajuaro plain
by fountains, stale artificial lakes,
swimming pools
and golf course greens.

Still, the clouds return from the Pacific
and the cycle begins anew each season
despite this broken spoke in the wheel.
And a river that searches for the Sea of Cortez
rushes to a pointless death in Phoenix, Arizona,
never to rise from the ashes again.

In 1994 this poem took third place in the Flagstaff Festival of Arts Statewide poetry competition titled Arizona Anthem. And yes, I know there is a split infinitive in the title. So did the judges. I may have placed higher but the grammar police busted me on this one. I did it intentionally. I really did. I toyed with "Oh, Never to See Cortez Again." I liked it - I liked the sense of never to the sea of Cortez sense of it. But.... there was this "to boldly go" thing in my head and I liked the rhythym and - so, I split an infinitive! I dangle participles too, you know!
p.s. by the way - in this same statewide contest, my daughter Megan took 1st place in the under 18 division for a sweet little poem titled "friends." She was 7 years old at the time! I got a nice placque, she got a paper certificate - it should have been the other way around.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way your poem was constructed and they way it read out, very nice.

    Good job on your daughter's part.

    I'll be back to