Tag Archives: high desert

Beneath the Red Cliffs

by Thomas Davis

for April Chischilly

Beneath red cliffs as first morning light reflects fire
into an impossibly blue sky,
a Navajo woman, aging, calm, long black hair and black eyes
a part of high desert juniper and pinion trees,
walks as beauty stirs backwards and forward in time.

The medicine man in his Hogan’s darkness
sees a woman he doesn’t know through an ancient crystal
handed from medicine man to medicine man
through thousands and thousands of years.
He feels heart-strength, spirit-strength,
sees her facing what is beyond the light’s weaving,
her beauty-song echoing and echoing
into the song of women, the spirit of women
who have forever given birth
and lived through the everyday turmoil of everyday
without flinching, trying to find the courage that is who she is.

Courage weaves a blanket from light out of the woman’s heart
into the texture of red stone.
It rises from the moment when sons were born,
patience was worn away as dreams and hopes were deferred,
as self honesty penetrated weaving consciousness
that tries to protect itself in the interest of shuttling
strength and goodness into the sinews and spirits of children.
Speaking softly, singing beauty, the Navajo woman walks
beneath cliff fire ignited by first light
beneath an impossibly blue sky.

The Navajo woman walks beneath red cliffs
in an impossible blue sky
as first light sets sandstone walls on fire.

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Empty Hands

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

You come again
with empty hands.
When I meet you
your hands have nothing for me.
Not a small desert blossom.
Not a tiny bit of driftwood.
No rock.

You could have reached down
on your walk across the desert
and picked up a small gift.

I yearn for those hands
to be generous.
My father,
although a tyrant,
always had something for me
in his large brown hands.

But you,
I will rename you
“Empty Hands.”

Tomorrow the light
that floods the high desert
will present itself to me
as my gift.

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The Asking

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The undiscovered land
of the high desert
takes our faces
in her hands
and asks,
“What kind of people
are we?”

“What kind of people
do we want to become?”

She has a way
of changing us
as we walk past
the rocky, dark soils
with giant cedars,
the singular mountain,
white-capped,
and the coyote
moving in his spring dance.

This undiscovered land
takes our faces
in both her hands….
and asks….

and asks….

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Summer in the High Desert

a photograph by Sonja Bingen

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New Mexico

a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Dance of the Iris: Fertile Land, Desert Land

Dance of an Iris

a photograph by Sonja Bingen

Iris in the Desert

a photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Note: The time of Iris blooms is nearly done. In fertile southern Wisconsin the Iris dance in sunlight and the intensity of spring. In the high desert Irises, especially a profusion of Irises, is a miracle.

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Storm Clouds Over the High Desert

a photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Spirit of the Horse

a photograph by Alazanto, Kevin Davis, our son

Taken October 29, 2006

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Evening in Continental Divide, NM

We have, over the life of fourwindowspress.com, presented poetry and essays about Continental Divide, New Mexico. It is a small place off Interstate 40 to the east of Gallup. The area has a variety of races and tribes, Navajo, Pueblo (especially Zuni and Acoma), Hispanics, people from the Middle East, and Anglos. The majority of the population are Native Americans. This photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis is taken just on the other side of the fence around our house looking southwest–more west than south, at sunset. You can see the Zuni Mountains behind the rabbit brush, sagebrush, juniper, cedar, and piñon trees. There are about 360,000 acres of pristine wilderness in the Zuni Mountains. What you cannot see in the photograph are the elk, mule deer, jack rabbits, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, bobcats, lynx, black bears, grizzly bears, cattle, horses, coyotes, and dogs that sometimes make noises in the night that get our two wonderful dogs, Pax and Juneau, barking. This is only one angle from our house. The forest is thicker if you swing the camera lens just a little bit. From our second story you can see the red cliffs to the north and Mount Taylor, the area’s towering mountain rich in Navajo and Pueblo beliefs, to the east. We live in a wild, rural place that presents some challenges–we are sometimes without electricity or water for a day, but that also causes tourists to stop and get out their cameras.

Photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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