Thomas Doty – Storyteller

Coyote & Friends


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by Anna Beauchamp

I have come a long way back to this red-rock mesa.
An eager meadowlark sings over and over,
jumbling the last notes into a hopeful question.
Then the stillness breathes a bit,
allowing the lizards time to consider their next move.
The sun flattens the sky down upon me,
pressing last night's rain out of the sage
in a succulent, silvered smell.
The junipers are overwhelmed by their berries,
pungent blue pebbles rolling on the bitter ground,
far from any baskets.

Here is the ladder I knew I would find.
Its bark is barely skinned off, a sinewy invitation.
As I climb, it seems I pluck each rung from its socket,
flinging it to uncertain landing behind me.
I step over the rim and there she is --
an impassive face, always ready.
This petroglyph cleaves the stone into then and now,
but the uncarved past flinches away.
Tangy green lichen caresses her brow, softens her mouth.
To her, we must all look like we need compassion.
But the deep crevices of her face carry some clenched, visceral message,
hard to decipher.

Like a blind child,
I finger her symmetrical mouth, her wide eyes.
She tells me only this:
keep looking.