Bio Note: My second chapbook, It Isn't That They Mean to Kill You (Arroyo Seco Press, 2018) consists of poems mostly written at the desert home of my friend Jane Culp, a visual artist who frequently paints and draws the landscape and creatures of the badlands. Jane and her stories go on turning up in my poems. I recently told her there might someday be a Jane chapbook, to which she replied, "Oh, gawd."
When I turned 50 Jane said, Watch out, the long slide down starts now. In my 50s I let go of a love that hurt too much, turned toward peace. When I reached 60 Jane said, Now begins the slow collapse. My 60s have been solitude, early risings, poetry, work, long walks and swims. Jane says, Soon, very soon, you’ll burn out like a dwarf star collapsing under its own weight. This comforts me. Ten years from now if we’re both still here I know what her forecast will be.
Originally published in One Art
Talking to Scrubjays
Jackrabbit zigzags to a manzanita, stops with his large ears up, rises on his backlegs for a better look, leads on to where I had not meant to go. Off to the side on an animal trail that invents itself as it goes along, skirting foxtails and cholla, the stiff outstretched fingers of scrub oak, a deer moves, flank and back legs glimpsed as I pass a hill-top tumble of boulders, ideal for a cougar den. At dusk a rainbow rises from mountains against dark clouds, disappears, returns more luminously, calling rain into the last bit of last bit of desert sunset.
Originally published in Sheila-Na-Gig
Jane doesn’t love the ravens as much as she did once. Marriage will do that, years of seeing the beloved go about his business. Like most of us the black-winged thieves are opportunists. They wait until the baby hummingbirds plump up, nab them just before they fledge. She doesn’t like the mourning doves so much now either, having seen them peck their babies when the little ones get underfoot, greedy for birdseed. No one is innocent, not even the hummingbirds who sometimes pierce each other’s chests. May Jane never see the black-headed grosbeaks, the white-crowned sparrows or the California quail beat each other up, for then who, just who, would she have to talk to?
©2023 Penelope Moffet
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