“Crossings – A Sevenling” and “Prayer for the High Desert.” Poetry by John Hicks

Crossings – A Sevenling

Three rivers.  Three stones.
The Ohio.  The Mississippi.  The Missouri.
Three skips into each.   

Each river crossing
a new beginning.  Each ceremony
three worthy worries

left to tumble downstream.

Prayer for the High Desert

Silent.  Cholla-dry. 
Juniper and piñon
respectfully apart,
hunkering water rights
like a quail hen
sheltering brood.

For some, distance sustains life

red yellows into day, stretching
light to mesa distance,
and the cloud magnets—Jemez,
Sandia, Taylor, Sangre de Cristo—
ladder micro climates
through their elevations. 

Pull your hat down to block the glare. 
Scan horizons for what approaches,
for what wind bears. 
If we get monsoon this year,
it will green-felt the mesa tops
and wash off the O’Keeffe colors.  

In this country, you see your weather coming 

and wood that shrank
leaving cracks in doors,
will fill in,
as we do,
never wet enough that we
forget the dry. 

Since rain has a season,
creatures of spike and thorn,
like yucca and cholla,
also have deep roots. 

For some, depth sustains life

Wind speaks of weather
and wildfires,
the smoke tinting sunset
like winter dust storms. 
Listen to it in the arroyos
and at night pushing
into the kitchen chimney.

Listen to the distance

A bobcat raises her litters on the roof, 
though a cub may doze on the back porch
where you might spot soft belly hair
snagged midway up a porch post. 

Scorpions find their way into the house
in treads of boot soles, and finches nest
in the cow skull on the patio wall
away from roadrunners.

The best defense is being hard to reach

It’s where roads end that life begins,
where hummingbirds summer
and in October, mating tarantulas
scatter across sand and gravel. 
As desert willows drop their leaves, 
they remind us there are other seasons. 

Here wild horses scratch bellies on junipers,
and take dust baths in favorite places,
the dust drifting away like a sail
when they stand and shake off. 

And coyotes, bull snakes, coachwhips,
and rattlers do vermin control, and
wolves and mountain lions come down
from preferred mountain trails
to mark their visits. 

And when the crow appears
and passes over creaking its blessing,
I also send my prayer: 

     Dear God  Let no one find this place.

John Hicks is a New Mexico poet: has been published or accepted for publication by: I-70 Review, First Literary Review – East, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Blue Nib, Sheila-Na-Gig, and others. In 2016 he completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of  Nebraska – Omaha.

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