Trina Gaynon

Austere Essentials

At dawn, the comet streamed
over Kitchen Mesa. In the cobalt
blue sky, stars disappeared,
as the crust of frost beneath
my feet does, under the sun.
That blue of God’s eye forces
my eyes down and fills them
with desert color: Iron red,
oxide yellow, pyromorphite green,
broad strokes of pigment in sandstone.
O’Keeffe spends a lifetime not quite
getting these colors right, so turns
instead to cattle bones and flowers
that could only have broken into
blossom in less harsh sunlight.
Chimney Rick, carved by wind and rain,
stands erect above the tops
of mesas that thrust their way
out of the high plains, reaching
for water and God.
When I start my hike, air sharp
in my lungs, Chimney Rock seems days,
not hours, away, in this territory
where snow melts slowly in crevices
the sun will never reach.
The painter keeps surfaces flat.
No one is ever large enough,
only rock is fertile. In canyons
a whisper echos off stone to become
a whirling winter storm of words.
The only painting where she comes
close, done long before she knew
the desert, is a vertical blue line
splitting a white paper field
and pooling at the bottom.