Atom Ariola




I walk the cattails along the wallow and I remember

your hair from years ago. The mountains of Santa Fe are barely

in view, but there in the vanishing distance, and the sky

wearing the rose hue of gasoline insists on saying

nothing, the way it always does. This is what I wanted

to tell you but never could.

Once, we were young and believed in everything, even ourselves,

and the ease at which things passed seemed natural to us, even

in the weight that comes from breathing and dying as we do.  How

long ago you poured your oils upon me, preparing the earth

beneath our feet for some nameless kind of worship, slow oil upon split stones,

that promise of wheat on your lips an answer to all the

cold and naked dark that February always carries with it.

This is what I wanted to tell you.  How I love the smell

of the water and its long sleep—its oath of forgetting.

And now it’s years later and who can I say it to, sitting here,

watching the shapes of animals through the dusk and listening

to voices that have latched  in the trees somewhere

just beyond the arroyo.


Offer me back to the wind.  Say it so.
Open this hand and offer me.
Colors escape your palm into midnight, mouth,
the shape of the body left for dead in the soft
chalk dust.  There, near the water,
we were finally born.
Open these thighs,
hear a voice torn to rags.  Ask,
where are we now, tied to a bed of crimson roots, the blade
of morning cutting against all need
before and after language.
That rhythm, say it again.  Sun and
milk, too dark to forget, don't forget me now,
give me a way back home to your body,
where I began.

Potato Picking in the San Luis Valley

There is nothing much to say

about this place.

Fords rust

along the edges

of the mute

stripped fields.

The earth, also,

is mute.  It will not

speak to us.

There is only the color

of umber

holding out against the first

white frost.

There is the sagebrush

the field hands

burned down to their charcoal stems,

marking only that distance

from ourselves.

3 Poems