Linda Sillitoe (B.A., University of Utah) has two books forthcoming from Signature Books, Secrets Keep and Friendly Fire: The ACLU in Utah. Also forthcoming as part of the Utah Statehood Centennial is Welcoming the World: A History of Salt Lake County. See other work by Linda Sillitoe in Weber Studies: Vol. 9.2 and Vol. 20.3.
Someone crouches on the steps of a trailer
in Wyoming, watching the sky's chilly wind.
What comfort might that person find, shifting
on metal, to recognize that Wait Until I Come Moon
of the Kiowa—October, when the long hunt ends.
More comfort and meaning, in Wyoming, than Octavius
or Augustus, Julius Ceasar or Janus. School out,
who are the Romans to us?—living the rhythms
of the New World, compelled by its seas and spaces.
How foolish to have kept the Uncompahgre River,
The Uintah Mountains, Seattle, and Detroit
(the landscapes we scourged of peoples)—
yet forgotten their moons. Wouldn't our factories
flourish below the Caribou Abundant in the Woods;
the meteorologists stop guessing at weather. We'd know
travelers' fates under the Moon of Snow Blindness
or the Moon When the Cold Makes Trees Crack.
Geography would connect like the land if children
imagined the Ojibway filing under the Snow Crust Moon
even as the Melting Snow Moon gathered Navajos to the dance.
We would wake in the haze of the Plant in Secret Moon;
anticipate languid lovemaking under the Corn in Tassel.
Sorrow, borne by the Moon when Reindeer Return from the Sea,
or hunger below the Cold Meal Moon, would fit like lost skin—
if each year thundered forth the Moon When the Buffalo Ruts.
You settle in as if you designed
the towering eucalyptus trees
that dust a cobalt sky. You learn
the names of neighbors—jacaranda,
ocotillo, devil's claw—and study
the desert doves that hop unnamed.
Having loved too hard, too many,
you sleep alone with one hand on the wall;
your inner space becomes inviolate.
Yet even here the night trains rush
through town blaring the old song—
coming through! coming now!
On the most improbable day, June
in January, a Saturday free—
why are we even talking about
probabilities. As if the russet brush,
shoving its way through old snow
on the splotched hills, is metered.
If we believe in unmetered four-letter
words like time, work, love (well, money
expands any form, so five letters)
why are we even talking
as the road plunges and twists under
the indifferent tires like an omen.
Here is light lavished on crusted-snow
mountains as if no one counts Saturdays
or money. Sun drenches the scene
that stays frozen, sears the dry road
unrolling beyond sight. Why are we even
announcing our landmarks and deadlines
on a day that unfolds like pages.
Is it so hard to believe in abundance:
that Saturdays abound, that no one
surveyed the canyon and printed the sum.
Or do we place markers rather than see
the sun spilling and ask: why are we.