Road to Santa Fe*


Early north from Albuquerque

After miles of massive mesas

I slip inside the bones

Of glacial time. How flat

The great ice flow leveled

Clean these promises.


What alchemy of wind and rain

Cut Rameses' chin from the dust

With neck alert and throat intact?

What lapidarian carved epaulets

On his shoulders down to size?


What hot fist lifted up the hills

With such symmetric pinon stubble?

What fingers fashioned pectorals

Of the Sangre de Cristos? What

Suffering serrated faces crimson?


Near the silver feet of Santa Fe

The quiet ponderosa that ring

Arroyo Canyon stipple in the sky.

As sunset fades finches' wings

Snowfall so fine sprays Christmas


Down the hillsides. Calls of cold

Coyotes cease when the last

Car strafe dies away toward Taos.

I rise at dawn before the roar

Of traffic from the valley floor.


I can even hear the flit

Of rock wrens pelting air.

It's so still it's as if

All the ages of the earth

Are listening in my ears

For that first word again.


Jerome L. McElroy


*Accepted in The Poet's Pen (late 1998)