One early morning in August 2003, I was at Gathering at Zuni Mountain Sanctuary in western New Mexico. I woke up at dawn, the sun warming my tent through the east-facing tent door. It was going to be another hot, sunny day in the high desert of the Checkerboard region near Ramah, New Mexico. It wasn't hot yet, though, but the sunlight felt good on my skin. I got out of the tent, put on my boots but no other clothing, and took a walk in the morning light.
I was camped under some pinon pine near the edge of the Sanctuary camping area, near the entrance road. I decided to walk out the road to the front gate and back. It felt a little daring to take a morning walk nude. No one was around, though. I enjoyed feeling the warm sunlight on my skin.
Out by the front gate, the neighbor's horses had wandered onto the land again; they got out of their corral sometimes, and wandered over to our grazing. The stallion was being very protective of his mare, but I stood and leaned on the fence, and we communed for awhile, anyway.
As I walked, I thought about one of the other campers, who had taken a similar naked walk out to the front gate on a previous morning. We saw all of the same things, yet nothing we saw was the same. No repeats, just attractors. His telling me about his early morning walk inspired me to take mine.
The annual Southwest monsoon had started earlier that week, and even though this particular morning was clear and bright, every evening spectacular cloud formations covered the sky, sometimes giving us some rain. The desert plants were in prolific bloom, making a carpet of bright color across the desert and surrounding mesas.
The skies in New Mexico are among the most beautiful in the United States: a never-ending show, never repeating, always changing. Some of the most vivid sunsets I have ever seen have been out there near Ramah, or up at Taos.
Each time you see a sunset, do you say, I've seen a million sunsets before; or do you say, I've never this sunset before?
to shard and shatter, the wind cries: resolve.
to archway, soaring cloud, bright calm wave: a lintel.
every arm unarmored. mandible of shell in sand.
surficial exclamation of afterbirth: killdeer. killdeer.
sage and sacrifice: bright shimmer. tornadic, silver: spent.
silver god man abrupt in surf, transparent, skyborne.
gestured arms open to sun scathe. turquoise eyelet.
black gaze of benediction and regret: scale, armor, hide.
wavering apparition of the dream-blessings of seals:
limpid, mercurial. to fold arms and float. dispersed to shower.
nautilus chambers of the hearts of river-bathed sea-otters.
silent black eye watching: headflick, dive, return. hawk cries.
stand on olivine shore, become oceanic. merge with one rock.
sentinels of pelicans: shearing what must be shored.
rust rock and stain concretion eye. this shore: watching.
nothing of you left here but steps into a sand-locked archway:
wave-eaten trail: terminal tear: where you stepped
between light and flicker. nothing left but a hole in the air.
beach, shore, arch: now empty. nothing left but waveslosh and gullcry.
to that shy silent sky, slow moving: to give yourself: away.