dusty from lost mercury mine trails,
roam uphill to the open door, step on the solid
pine floor — dusty as well, as dusty are twelve
pews, a rustic cabinet and a mute electric organ.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, narrow windows
flare out from the blue of stained glass. The petite altar
of Maria Guadalupe adorned with fake roses
and one-dollar banknotes reminds me of the miners’
cemetery, but there is a presence — a vertical ray
from the attic crosses the light from the door.
By neglect or invitation, the door is open
to the Chihuahuan desert — sotol and agave,
a matted setter roaming between boulders
like a coyote. Shouldn’t any church be like this —
open to your desert? A moment of shared solitude
when the light meets the ray — something pierces
your coarse numbness, stirs juices in the old agave?
Your restless boots ready to walk away, yet linger.
You pray for safe tires on the darkening dirt road
to mountains, for a connection where the signal is lost.
You remember Archie, an old auto-mechanic, saying:
“Unless you’ve got a skill that is really needed here,
don’t move to Terlingua.” Pray not with words
but skills of your hands. Under the open sky,
on the terrain of desert candles you learn both.
Adoration of the Road: i. Walking Beams
Pumpjacks. Pumpjacks. Panoramic cheeks
of the Chihuahuan terrain — hollow, stubbly.
The tongue of a road — glistening, unobstructed,
outstretched like Kali’s. Vishnu/Shiva, fusion/fission:
I’m ignorant of global, Oppenheimer things.
A thrush sings: kerouac, kerouac.
Lilac pyramids and pale mesas glow
at the edges of mustard, winter-tinted grasslands —
Andrew Wyeth’s palette, plants without plans,
plenty of oxygen. No need to protect
our license for silence with ear plugs,
to pivot on a central axis as a walking beam
of a pumpjack. We pull over to walk,
beaming with the joy of a mere breath.