The Works of Larry Schug
We spend the afternoon
rolling rocks down a sandy scree slope
at the base of Orphan Mesa,
laughing like little children
as the stones tumble and jump
until lying still as gravestones
when gravity exhausts itself on level ground.
We play at rearranging the landscape
as if we are apprentice gods, practicing on stones
before learning to stir water and wind
into floods and hurricanes,
shake the earth into quaking, just for a laugh.
Tomorrow, we decide,
we’ll plant trees and heals the scars of erosion,
maybe pick up trash along the highway
on our continuing quest for divinity.
The doe's back was raked raw,
claw marks, it seems,
but what would do such a thing, and how?
A cougar, I conjecture,
leaping from a limb onto her back,
but how did she shake it off
and why no bite marks on her neck?
I wonder, was that same doe
the matted pile of hide
and scattered bones I found
when the snow melted?
And why did she return to memory
six years later--
a kind of re-birth for the sake of a poem,
a lesson in mortality sent by some local god?
We could’ve turned around
in that driveway in Vallecitos
where we stopped to check the map;
and I should have known
it was a bad plan
to keep going on that road
by the look on the faces
of those two ranchers unloading hay
as they watched us drive by,
due north on a road
they knew would disappear
beneath snow drifts up ahead
beside the frozen river, become
impassable beyond Cañon Plaza.
We should’ve turned around then,
when I saw the laugh in their eyes,
there for a minute, but dimmed
when they turned back to work
and another day in poor Vallecitos
surrounded them again.
The widow turns on the kitchen radio,
tunes it to a ballgame while she watches tv.
The radio bothers the hell out of her,
just like it did when her husband was alive.
But after ballgame and her shows are over,
when she turns the distractions off at bedtime,
the house is so quiet;
she’s the only one in their double bed
and there’s just no way
to pretend her way out of that.
The Perfect Time
Enshrouded in a cloud of snow
kicked up by a county plow
on an icy road—
it’s enough to scare the Zen into anyone,
not knowing if you’ve lived a minute
or a lifetime
inside this snowy nebula
or whether your tires are still on the road or not.
Only when you emerge
into transparent blue air, alive it seems,
and no other cars head on in your lane,
do you think, damn, ain’t this the perfect time
to begin your life anew.