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
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 (www.susancumminsmiller.com) 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."