“I reckon she tours 45, 47 weeks a year” he drawled
that soft spoken voice crawled out of wiry limbs
and a throat red and wattled and jiggly while he
wagged his chin.
“Why, she may clear two hundred thousand a year”
and those words drew my eyes lifted, my ears
and I couldn’t decide if he was more
Richard Farnsworth or Robert Duvall or
just a one-off salt knowing everything about nothing.
“What’s it gonna take, til she strikes it hot, clear
and becomes the next Joan Baez?”
I stifled my own mirth, jammed it deep
like musket balls tamped down the barrel
of an old long-rifle and lowered my gaze
like the sharp winter moon bending to earth
to harvest tides and turns and yearns.
But when she came out she was clothed in midnight.
She wore night sky round her shoulders adorned
with stars golden and shimmering in arpeggios, waves
rippling, flowing as she mounted the stage all gawky
adolescent walking into high school for the first time,
all snowy egret eternal and established and impossibly thin.
Thin, lined with years like irrigation ditches dug
by needy and loving hands from her dirt and her face
a sharp, flat smooth blade fierce, angular and unrelenting
until she sang, and
Mama picked her up and
she became more diamond brilliant and
turning than tossed tomahawk whirling fast.
of the Sacred Mountain,
of Blue Lake
and the Holy Hallowed
ground made ready
by the steady
devoted padding footsteps
of the people of the lake.
Her voice was red,
red smears on blacks and deeps
crimson moans in velvet folds
and bright cardinal ever song
over the burlap of everlasting deep.
Snow, rain, wind, beauty
swirled her round and fell
from her slopes in glitter-jets
and flocky-flecks and cloudy bunches,
fell to our listening hearts
yearning in the darkness.
And my tears fell as I heard her,
tasted her in this present sacred singing moment
while she spun her tales right down the rails
and into our true heart amber and yearning
and I recalled the Sanctuary she built for me
from her pain and need and naked suffering trust
that temple of holy hurt that I dwelt in, grieving
mourning the coming loss of love and sweet devotion
I dared not leave that place then
I did not want to leave this place now
but she reeled them off and some brand new
and rose from that folding chair grander
than any sovereign throne fashioned
from naked blades or fragrant petal
And like a mountain
just up and walking off
she strode, spare glorious
slopes cloaked in snow
and feet clothed in rain
and wreathed in wet and
the blossoms of many trees