In the night
what I am perched
on the edge of sleep
you appear, just
out of the dream shadows,
avoiding the light,
you are featureless.
I call to you and I think
you must be smiling
but your voice is the wind
through the Austrian pines
and the drip from the ever
that slowly abandoned
the eaves of the house.
I sat with the ghost again
this morning, the one who inhabits
the body that was once my father.
Ghosts find it difficult to speak
from within living bodies, so mostly
it squeezed my hand and offered
an occasional weak smile or nod,
said I looked good, but ghosts do have
trouble seeing out of human eyes.
He slept quite a bit, curled up
the better to contain himself
against the lights and prodding,
for ghosts want only silence and peace.
I came down out of these mountains
once, emerged from clouds that built,
blackened the sky, bleached
and were gone, I slid on snow pack,
I came down into the sage and piñon,
lit my fires and purified myself.
I ran with jackrabbits, imagined
bears were coyote, coyotes cats
that might curl in sleep
around my feet. I dug
for water, turned parched ground
to straw with prayer and dream,
baled my dreams and straw
and stacked them neatly,
plastered them over and huddled
within, I ran wires to the mountain gods
and drew their power, I stole the light
of a thousand stars, darkened the moon
and now I am chindi, rejected by
my spirit kin, left to wander the mesa.
They come down from the hills
long after the sun
retreats beyond Tres Piedras.
In the moonless sky
they creep around the pinyon,
nestle the sage that
blankets the mesa, stare
at the scattered homes
that dot the half-frozen soil.
They are orange flames
compressed inside orbs
paired, they approach
here one set, there another.
The wind whistles through
the Rio Grande Gorge
here a mere whisper.
The wild rabbits perk,
fly through the sage
in lupine terror.
One brays to the stars
and inside the house
the fur on the cat’s back
bristles. It’s just a coyote,
he says, nothing
to be afraid of here.
At night, they say,
this land is once again
ours, and we hold
the key to the human prison.