Gargoyle 37/38
Cover Photo of Louise Brooks
Published 1/1/1990

Views of the Pecos

Miriam Sagan

Limestone cliffs like brushstroke
She says: what are these Chinese cliffs
Doing in our view of Pecos?
And washes her face in the cold river;
The long pines, dark verticals
Against the zigzag of stone;
Zigzag like what they say a baby knows
About a mother’s face: the eyebrows and the nose
Like rock climbers clambering up
The sheer face of the cliff.

I’m getting old under this cliff
Don’t live in Paris or New York
Six months big with this child
Who dances the rumba on my bladder
Even my mother who had her last near forty
Says: absolutely, no woman over twenty-two should have a baby.
Aspen leaves are almost gone
What’s left is yellow, trembles at wind’s rumor
Pale aspens clumped together
Shy gang of girls
Around some horse in a corral.

Those old Chinese guys, the painters
Would have liked these cliffs
Crag on silk, the pine,
Would like it here
Brown horse, decrepit corral,
Air shot through with golden thread,
Those old guys who could paint
Mist and smoke, waterfall and cloud
Who just by looking
And by looking hard
Make us forget
We are going to die.