Emiliano Obregón,
late of this valley,
was discovered today
face down dead
among the onions
in his field. May his soul
rest in peace.

Don Emiliano
kept to himself mostly,
eyes cast downward,
speaking only rarely,
and only to show where best
to sink the well, when best
to sow the lunar corn.

We’d see him often
from our morning’s window,
standing in the early light
of his field, behind him
the quiet thread of dawn,
explicit as a razor
along the ridge.

He always wandered softly
in our midst, always turning
this way and that, like a dog
on a scent. You’d see him
nimbling through the cholla,
enmeshed in murmuring thought,
lost in an amazement of sign.

People say they’d never heard
the sound his voice made,
so quiet, so infrequent,
was his speaking,
and no one can remember ever
having seen him bowed
at Angelus or watched him
dip his fingers at the chapel door.

Sometimes you’d see him standing
transfixed in sunset light,
captive of some incandescent
webwork jeweled by the storm,
imprisoned by the spindling labors
of small things, arrested
in a thicket of encryptions,
things unnoticed
by the busy rest of us.

The hour of his birth
was thronged, they say,
by a family of heralding
ravens, quizzically perched,
bright-eyed, defiant,
on the railinged portal
just outside his mother’s window.

The hour of his death
is unknown, but some
report a sleepless night,
a troubling of owls
in the cottonwood, a morning
startled by the raven on the rail,
his brazen, shining, garnet eye.