By S.A. Leger

The San Juan summit could be a needle, and to think

no one would know until April—a season of tender

carcasses found, of deer vertebrae, female voices

littered across detritus, males safe & tiny in the night

weighed down by snow, beating rays through a window

the stratosphere—that Ruth had come up short, blessing

 

her prayer victims with flirty gusts but never protective

blows of enlightenment, armor, concealed expectations.

Ruth is enough, sitting hunched before her bay window,

her white hair tangled by the dawn, her pale succulent

cheeks stretched down toward her lips. ‘Round the clock

she paints self portraits with flowers while her kitchen wills

 

itself to oxidize, rust, deteriorate between visits from vocal

scrub jays alight from pollen production zones sanctioned

by weather herself to smash open pinecones, ceaselessly

bleed the flesh dry around juniper ovaries until ruminating

hooved animals press the zygotes into dust, clay, warm

spring sage brush aiming only for roots. Fenestrations

 

always have something to do with muscle attachment, plus,

what good is a window if it doesn’t contain the voice

of the people, Ouray and his wife Chipeta, the same delicate

scene that Ruth has painted twenty times, “The Benediction”

and now the lambs can eat. A moment before sleep, reckon

why Ruth writes poems in cards from her hospital bed 24-7

 

bipeds tread across her threshold, lean into her breath day in,

day out. She once painted her aura yellow, scratched a lunette

across the top to make it look as though she had conjured

an empty sunlit room rather than portray herself as reeking

skunk cabbage, flowers as yellow as the gaseous stroke of

luck leaking from the sky, her pores, hot springs. Fork-tender

 

her palm, just below the thumb, a tiny treeless forest throbbing

with light and drought, and as many river rocks as can be relentlessly

stacked. While Mr. Gregory is not at home, they have a decent boon

of a marriage—I’m told—full of fiddle music, paint, casements

stocked full of sons and no words whatsoever to frankly articulate

just how Ruth cared for it all. She mumbles into the night, sleeps

 

on it. Never a caress, for her joints are inflamed. Her grasp, blasé

another drop of rain into another mud pie. She, diurnal, a mute

philosophers later say: she was an anathema never to penetrate brick.

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