When the sun touches the horizon
it draws a great strength.
Ruby and turquoise spill onto gray
as when a woman stooped
noiselessly
to touch the hem
of Jesus’ garment.

To be or not to be
suffused with light,
drawn into the wick—
From this vantage point
the moth reveals
there is no turning back.
At the center
of the flame
no shadows hide.

Out of dust
of earth and stars
he shaped us,
and home to dust
of earth and stars
we return.

An ocean of clouds called
today, blanketing the canyon
with purple. Clouds,
like theatrical curtains,
parted over the mesas
to reveal an aperture:
white clouds
outlined in goldfoil.

Only a few drops
reached the overhang
where we sat.
Dipping brushes
in water, we stirred
puddles of paint,
mixing our pigments to paint
flesh-toned rocks
in the canyon.

Water never quite brushed
the rock, rain never arrived,
but our brushes touched water
scattering drops on sand.

My brush
hovered
over the canvas
suspended like a hawk
scouting
hungry to explore
a country of his own.

Turn your sorrow
into something beautiful.
Accept your loss
and multiply what’s left.
Take a lesson from the gardener:
Examine the broken branch
and graft onto it
a living branch.
Then wait for the strange,
new fruit.

A quiet, still life:
the sandstone squares itself
in the face of rain, storm and wind.
After a long darkness,
a small hollow gives way,
yields to rain showers and windstorms.
The arches and windows
of sandstone cliffs
are not easily won.

Once a shell nested here cupped in the sand,
the soft flesh inside offering itself to the sea,
a sea that submerged it and then retreated.
As waters receded, the shell
burrowed in the wet sand.
Then, like a great tidal wave, an uplift
rocked the earth and the shell rose with it,
uprooted on a windswept mesa.

Today, a thousand miles away,
waves conceive the winds that sweep
the landlocked mesa
where, like a scavenger,
I sort through broken sandstone and rock
and carry home the sea,
windswept and marooned,
in a fossil.

I wish my words
could be as fine
as the words of a sonnet
each syllable in place
or as fitting
as the flawless coiffure
of a debutante
and I wish that my words
could overcome you
like the melody
of a saxophone solo,
but mostly I wish
that the harmony
of our lives
might survive us
like that 1930s jazz
we conjure
with the touch of a button.

We are one together
like the dark coffee beans
and white coffee blossoms
like the ruddy henna dye
and the white henna flowers:
your seed gives root
to my blossoms that
nourish your fruit; like
opposites on a visible
spectrum, I take, you give
color, while the puzzle
of our belonging appears
as mysterious to the world
as does the existence
of zero to the mathematician.

Like a ladder
the green vein
of the zucchini
climbs each petal
reaches the petal tip.
The petal arches back.
One blossom displays
her pistil.
Another, the anthers.
Where the sepal
diminishes,
the small round
breast of the zucchini
nudges the petals.

img_1668Henna on her hands,
she walks the streets.
Henna on her hands,
she braids her sister’s hair.
To color her hair,
a soft mound of henna
in a rounded gourd
next to her sister’s ankles;
her sister sits on a straw mat,
legs outstretched.
On the henna plant grows
fragrant white flowers;
an extract from the henna
leaves a dark-colored dye
for your hair, your palms,
the soles of your feet.
No henna on my hands,
my hair, my feet;
henna in my pen,
on the page that was blank.