Southern Colorado
High above Floreeda River I stand, in mid-stream,
not of water, but you, my lambs, languid/rippling
babel, all two thousand of you, fattening for ascent
into mountains for summer, two Navajos, and dog,
alone at your helm. Here by chance, so I seem,
an Aspen, against which you abrade with glee.
Your river of wool—ebb and flow of cries/
bells—choruses like no current I know,
tidal lament, perhaps, for lives that will last
but a few months longer, the herders say.
Spring’s rams/ewes, your turn now to practice
next year’s cascading recital to peaks.
For a moment, as you pause in forest’s shadows,
your backs and shoulders, in forage to my waist,
bewitch into boulders, timeless/unyielding,
before you transform, from stasis to motion,
darkness to light, back into life’s rituals
of brief fragility.
Lambs, what message do I draw? That in heart
of stones resides not only great gentleness of spirit,
as Navajos might say, but in you lies generosity
stout as stone, your wool to slake winter’s chill,
your body, on my table, to sustain/nourish mine.
Yet your riverine song, your touch, reach me deepest.
Cowboys call your herders meek, you a blot
on the range. A bear last night mauls third brave,
who lives in my mind for all of you, who may
in end die for you. I never learn his name,
heart’s name, nor how his brothers, now only two,
summer’s hungry dark in high country endure.


Suavidad: Spanish for softness.