by Thomas Davis
You feel them still, the desert ships:
Ocatillo, candle flame, white canvas rigged
Like sails triangular and luminous
Above the rose of wooden cabin blocks
That sail the mesa, bright ephemerals
Light driven, taut against the desert winds.
You walk in desert silences:
Sand, rock, a shimmering of heat,
The tall saguaros dark as masts against the sails,
The light blue of an early evening sky,
And feel the ships as desert devils dance
And time warps up an ancient ocean floor
Into these mountains dark with earth
And blue and lighter blue with distances.
And then the human metamorphosis:
The dry rose blocks of wood become the wall of stone.
The canvas light becomes the light of glass,
Of roofs that slant toward the magma heart of earth.
I sit alone beside the stones
That make the medicine wheel turn.
The ironwood, palo verde, barrel cactus, cholla, dark mesquite
Surround me, wrap me in the light of sails,
White canvas luminous with flame.
I bunch my muscles hard against the mountain’s slope.
A mountain lion’s paws leave marks upon the earth.
Note: This was written a number of years ago when I was peripherally involved with the Frank Lloyd Wright Fellowship. This poem is about Frank Lloyd Wright’s creation of Taliesin West in Arizona.
12 responses to “Ocatillo”
Thomas, this is such a richly descriptive poem that I read it three times, and with each reading could see more, and enjoy it more. I shall be back to read it yet again. I love this!!
I’ve got to try to get you an email, Betty. Thanks so much for the comment.
It painted quite an image and a feeling for me Ethel.
Thank you eremophila. Tom
Just got back from working with eight 2nd graders in Sabino Canyon wishing I could convey the desert’s meaning to them. To do so is not easy. It’s easier to teach about the arthropods that live in the desert, where children hunt for and record evidence of arthropod activity while learning about the behaviors (aka jobs) that arthropods display and the importance of their work to our ecosystem. This can be a challenge, but nothing like trying to convey the spirit of the desert to humans at any level. Your poem does it. Now I find myself trying to juxtapose the two.
May I post your poem on my blog?
Of course Kenne. I love your blog, as you probably already know.
Magnificent poem Tom: the lines so well balanced, the imagery so clear and true! Bravo!
I just wish I could keep up with your excellence as a poet, John. Thank you.
Well, we encourage and help each other …
So powerfully atmospheric, Tom. Transported me to a landscape I have only seen on screen before but your words magically bring this desert landscape alive in a way that film and photographs have failed to so. I am so glad you decided to post it here now. A timeless beauty and power.
Reblogged this on ReBirth: The Pursuit of Porsha and commented:
Thank you, thefirstdark. Thank you.