T. Luis Cox: Two Poems
After Arriving at the Comobabi Mountains During a Late April Winter Storm | In the Mote of a Hummingbirdís Pupil
After Arriving at the Comobabi Mountains
During a Late April Winter Storm
Hail stings me awake
out of a dream.
I had been in a room full of children leaping
high into an air saturated with steam
its floor ballooning into clouds,
its sky opening a door to a house flooded
leaking an electric
rainwater, a late
winter storm drifting down the throat
of a mountainside, peeling back
the skin of jojoba nuts to their bitter rinds,
the scarlet of ocotillo blossoms wringing
out the pale undersides
of ice airborne, accreting
into dense and denser
hailstones pelting down
into a green afternoon,
in each a mote charged
with killer bees.
This mountainís tangling asymmetries
I wrestle to the ground with my eyes.
A gold eagleís wings barely buttress
the ridge above, scarcely clearing
cloud-granite before falling back.
The morningís coals glow like overheated stoves.
The steam off eggs melts into what disappears.
Plucking a fistful
of ocotillo blossoms, I angle off
into a box canyon, trampling
rock in the decrepitude of their foundations,
lifting myself up into an old mountain lionís lair
grown mossy and cool, and back
behind that ridge a series of ranges,
a spinal column, an ancient water
alive and untouched at some low
altitude, a place not even the shadow
of the sun dares to envelop.
Again to the valley behind
a braided imprint of ocotillo in a wash.
The sun is a striding white elephant across a mirrorís water-depth.
No end to the light humming
under the skin of what keeps going:
the austere coyote,
the jaundiced javelina,
the waddling gila monster,
all of it flesh flashing
with a light so infinite it becomes
this narrow ridge,
this spine fastened
to a throat grown dry
with a high wind, providing
passage to the bitterness
of ocotillo blossoms,
until all thatís apparent is the swinging of the earth
underfoot, as each
mountain footprint disappears
into a stealing luminosity,
a howling space.
I ease myself down
a barbed slope.
How many times can a circle envelop
what it contains?
What passes away is sound itself
in overlapping latitudes of motion
hinging on a mountainís hand-holds,
a gold eagleís eyries
over abandoned mine shafts.
Iíve no song left but this
elongating verandah, this source of hail
up to my knees in a dream
circling back like a v-winged vulture,
its glide seamlessly following
conduits in a buoyant air.
I open my mouth but no utterance arrives to register
what Iíve received in this breadthís
momentum in blood and breath:
a vigilant hermitage and compassing holiness,
a stone blessing and windswept prayer.
In the Mote of a Hummingbirdís Pupil
The green breast and purple crown
of a hummingbird flashes
as its beak darts
into the funneling orange blossom
of aloe vera. The arms
of a distant saguaro sag
in decrepitude for lack
of water, the years dry
lately, the song of a shadow
playing over my shoulder as the sun
nears a ridge-horizon,
my thirty-ninth year now begun.
Now yoga in the same
mesquite grove I always return to,
a Bullockís Oriole hitching its yellow underbelly
into view overhead, an Easter Sunday morning,
wondering what passage now,
toward what eyes, hair, nose, hips, feet?
My own are here, a temple planted
in jojoba leaf, fan-like, raised
to catch sunlight in constant near-applause,
rock of a slightly reddish hue tumbling
down the mountainside over millennia,
looking up into my lowering palms, such pistons
of the earth,
this temple ground.
Artesian spring empties
out of granite, a cavern
so full of earth
it beckons me, algae,
desert wasps, clouds of moth-like butterfly
teeming all around, a hummingbird
lighting on a mesquite
sunlit at 4 p.m.
Who can know
what love is
in slender penstemon,
the purple stalks of ragweed,
the dried-out husk of a desert tortoise,
shattering these words
into a song no shadow
tarantula and hummingbird
into dirt and rock!
I squat down next
to this cave,
dark and ancient and aching
with the ages of an almost ageless earth,
cattle down in the valley below,
once having fed
Cochise and Geronimo.
Old wind, you upbraid me,
in a long-necked mesquite,
the song of a desert owl
as shadow breaks.
In the night, javelina yowl
in a high canyon somewhere,
primeval and ghastly, and later
stamp and snort near my tent,
such fierce pigs of the desert.
(I bolt up in shallow moonlight!)
In the morning, a hummingbird
hovers five inches from my face.
Such curious, mercurial eyes! Merely
to awaken to the uncaged
warbling of orioles migrating,
pausing on the tips of ocotillo, witness
the fluttering of a white-tailed dove
taking flight on a cave-anchoring wind,
all unbridled by sunlight,
this path we take,
you and I . . .
here it isLove,
of darkness and light
interwoven at dusk,
of Chenrezig in the mote
of a hummingbirdís pupil,
of a young Gold eagle perched
on the high ridge above
toward the canyon beyond,
warming itself in the morning light,
awaiting the first draft
of the day to lift it
on seven-foot wings still folded,
a desert-hermit cloaked
before letting go.
Note: Chenrezig is the deity of compassion
T. Luis Cox earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Arizona in 1991, then went into business with wholesale natural foods and a restaurant. He currently teaches writing at Pima College and substitute teaches for the Tucson Unified School District.
In 1992 he began to study and practice Tibetan Buddhism, and strives to evoke the unbounded nature of phenomena in the minute, doing so in the firm belief that poetry only outlasts the poet when it succeeds in this way. He writes to undefine himself, to hasten his heart and mind toward a view and experience of transcendence.