ANDREW JONES 

 

 

GHOST RANCH: PLEIN AIR #1

 

At the core: pilsner meadow 

slants left, rush of sage embraces 

 

windsong, navigates & excoriates 

Chimney Rock sandstone, steers 

 

snow towards Cerro Pedernal in May. 

The focus on distance here is too easy. 

 

Don’t let your eyes settle high upon bluff 

and mesa, on exploding white clouds 

 

cutting across the mirage of dusk sky: 

purple thistle, starburst, the yellow 

 

bloom show of yucca. Don’t overlook 

the meadow: low, earthy, muting & mixing 

 

voices through the side-oats grama. 

Always, the meadow crafts a swaying 

 

hush, takes us as we come: 

by heavy footfall or animal crawl.

 

 

 

SKEIN

 

As a kid, the Canadas always fascinated me.

So few descended in the Sacramento Valley

among the tule fog and rice fields. The deeper

pitch, the driftwood underbelly, and banded

black neck such a welcome contrast

against the impervious Snows.

 

“Honkers,” my dad would say, pointing at some speck

on the horizon, impressing me with his vision

and knowledge, “Branta canadensis.” The birds

appeared to me only upon his encouraging. Our backs

pressed into the rice checks, we watched their lilting flight

carry on through the dampness toward the Black Buttes.

 

Only in those fields of Richmond Hunting Club

was my father infallible and at peace. I learned

to appreciate the strained echo of the Snow geese

rising in swirling swift masses, like storms

I would later fear rolling across the plains 

toward my new home in the old Dacotah Territory.

 

A quarter-century gone, I stand at the edge of Iowa,

search for the skein of honkers I hear approaching

from some vast place I still fail to see. They break 

the cloud bottoms, the silent edge of gloom, 

shadows dropping in blowing snow. In the numb cold, 

I wait for his voice and listen to their beating wings. 

 

Andrew Jones teaches writing at the University of Dubuque in Iowa. His writing has appeared in recent issues of Hobart, The Tishman Review, and Memoir Mixtapes.

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