Thick & Thin 1. Walked down into Carizzozo Canyon & across to the north end of the Bear Mountains, tracing a small, strange arroyo up to the crest, but then got tempted to see from a better vantage, then another & so wandered deep thru the dozen or so small peaks to the east where I promptly lay down giddy from the elevation & fell asleep, hot sun, no relief— The downward trek, legs weak steep embankment, you need check each step against the momentum, or you’re soon tumbling out over yourself & it always takes more effort than you’ve allowed, descending, but see Little Bear Spring by the yellowing cottonwoods below keep that to the left, until I’m back in the basin, ankles achy climb for the truck at 6 come home lame, pretty much used but oddly elated 2. Junipers hereabouts grow to fifteen feet or so (lack of moisture, punishing winds), & as they age, the needles brown off in sections, twigs snap, the bark splits & the twisted gray limbs jut out One doesn’t often think of trees as animate, yet the bony wood emanating from the living green clearly meanders thru the air & the dead wood stands for decades such that one walks a ground living & dead share, or rather, one shares thoughts between the two the convolute limbs inevitably hearkening back a reversal of sorts dense overcast sky lending branches to your thought— dream a prior life forward or that the dead travel in mind toward the living (much like friends do in memory) but the suggestion of struggle— no doubt it’s my age— the whorled limbs caught out on display as if arrested, as if death might lean into that life at moments to reveal a higher purpose 3. Graveled trickle of a mountain spring down the tortured, rocky slope luster of wet sand & the dirt embankment slowly inching up, indeed soon a gully the passage thickening with willows, & I’m dumb-struck by the murky path I’ve soon got to waddle thru, slurry zig-zag track the intricate ways of water & clay search for gravelly spots but you can only stand there momentarily before they drop into goopy stuff, & I’m slogging, sliding thru mud virtually in the thick of it wet & desperate to get aside or above— clay banks now towering 25 feet up—depth of engagement for sure! but crawl, worm, lurch over the bank, scratched & dirty Who would have guessed 4. Several years back, I also napped atop the Manzanos, after struggling thru Red Canyon to Gallo Peak, waking at 10,000 feet to see 7-8 turkey vultures circling above, floating close, closer & I thought this was hilarious! squinting up at them— the finality of the moment: you not only can’t last forever, the vultures are moving in! 5. Lightning to the west & north gray-bellied clouds maybe ten miles off advancing east— gradually the thunder sharpens A light show in store tonight move boxes & such under the roof close down the electronics unplug the TV Grateful for the downpour but always at some risk roads washed out the phone line zapped, fires That's what you bump into need tally benefit against cost but otherwise the raw impact love to hear it roar whack, kaboom & pour Spectacular yellow flashes gray clouds illuminated, night sky, hellatious rain popping off the metal roof pummeling the trees, ground You wouldn't know rain hitting, soaking the dirt could be such a welcome sound & of course I’m safely inside encased as it were The pounding intensifies the ground puddles rivulets, gullies streaking the land then swells into turgid brown arroyos—
Bruce Holsapple works as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Magdalena, NM, where he makes his home. He has published seven books of poetry, most recently Wayward Shadow (La Alameda Press, 2013). A book-length study of Williams’s poetry, The Birth of the Imagination, was published by the University of New Mexico in November 2016.