The desolation is perfect. Vast basin.

Grasses winter dead

but golden. Morning sun

slanting to set them aglow.

Black bush. Rabbit bush.

The dead stalks of sotol.

Skeletons bleaching in desert sun.


Mountains offer lift—grey blue

haze of unattainable heights.

Sandhill cranes gather here

to glean in winter. Rise and soar

and rest along water’s edge

where endless drought has left

a shallow refuge they know


how to find. The voices are first

to hold the mind—songs and churrs

and calls by thousands mingled

into the pleasure to be among others

of their kind. Wings parachute

as they descend then backpedal

to ease the touchdown. Emotions


rise and call like that—a thin

voice then cacophony that makes

it hard to think. I’d bring you here

if I could, fly you across

disease ridden mountains and plains

to know this astonishment

of belonging. They lift as one,


descend, the loneliness over,

the fear of winter. During radiation

you climbed Mt. Lafayette

higher and higher over frozen

streambeds and iced rock

testing your body, knowing it,

refusing to let it be a stranger.