I was one of many poets who contributed to a beautiful book, Writing the Land: Currents, giving voice to 22 lands from across the country. I wrote for the Colorado Land Trust about the Potter Ranch located between Ridgway and Ouray in southwest Colorado. Thanks to Lis McLoughlin for her amazing poet-wrangling skills and to Elizabeth MacLeod Burton-Crow for her skills putting together this video of me reading on the land. If you, too, feel strongly about exploring our relationship with the land we live on and land conservation, check out the book and the project.
At the Potter Ranch
On a day when the human world feels like a fist—
when it clenches and squeezes,
fierce and relentless—
I leave the four walls and sit
on an old fallen cottonwood tree,
long and silver and smooth.
There, in the center of a wide river valley,
I sit. And sit. And sit.
And the tall green grasses
and the graceful white yarrow don’t refuse me.
And the murmur of waves
and the musk-yellow scent of sweet clover
replace any thoughts, save being here.
The ring of red mesas
with their vast crowns of spruce
form a vase great enough to hold it all—
and I am gathered into spaciousness
along with dark green sedges and white butterflies,
with the tantrums of brambles
and the tangled flight patterns
of thousands on thousands of dark tiny flies.
A flock of birds rise all at once from the river
and my heart and my eyes rise, too.
A long time passes before I am quiet enough
to hear the chorus in the willows,
the bright clicking of insect wings,
the silence that weaves through everything.
Then the flickers come close
and the dragonflies draw nearer in.
And I current. I cloud. I leaf. I wing.
I leave unwalled, un-selved.
The spaciousness comes with me.