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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Into Saguaro National Park-West; After You Left

By: Susan Cummins Miller

Into Saguaro National Park-West


Cloud waves, rosy-tinted

in first dawnlight, break upon

the atmospheric western shore.

A great horned owl calls

from the ancient saguaro, spreads its wings

and glides away to merge

with retreating shadows, while three tufts

of buffel grass wave outside

my hermitage window.


Entering the park via Picture Rocks Wash:

High above, the leading edges of clouds

curl like salt plumes. A male cardinal flutters

from branch to branch in a palo verde, bright scarlet

in the noonlight. He carries his secrets

to a small mesquite, pauses, head cocked, listening,

then glides behind a dacite bluff

as if returning home.


Late afternoon sunlight strikes

eternal figures etched

in desert varnish. Arms linked, they dance

around the Spiral, shuffling

to silent chants that set the still air thrumming,

while below their feet

the white sand river laps

frozen lava--flowing,

and not flowing.

After You Left


to Lara Nyro and Nina Simone:

bared blue-soul musings, tones

like raw silk brushed with tears.

Hungry notes glitter

with empty-room bravado before pulling back

beneath whispered skin. Lyrics reveal

what loneliness engenders

in bruised hearts and tortured psyches--reveal

lonely rivers of pain, meandering aimlessly,

and understanding, just beyond reach,

just beyond good-bye.


Tucson writer SUSAN CUMMINS MILLER ( holds degrees in history, anthropology, and geology. Miller, a former field geologist and college instructor, compiled and edited A Sweet, Separate Intimacy: Women Writers of the American Frontier, 1800-1922, and pens the Frankie MacFarlane, Geologist, mysteries. Her poems, short stories, and essays appear frequently in journals and anthologies, including the forthcoming So West: Love Kills and Without a Doubt: poems illustrating faith. In 2022, Finishing Line Press will release two poetry collections: Deciphering the Desert: a book of poems and Making Silent Stones Sing, a chapbook.

"My writing arises from my life, scientific work in, and interaction with the West, especially the Desert Southwest. These two poems were conceived during time spent in solitude and contemplation at a silent retreat center at the base of the Tucson Mountains. That center closed in 2020, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic."


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