Winter Solstice 2014
El Paso, Texas
—for Jim Koller
Couldn’t sleep. Reading Gary Snyder.
“Essential nature is not female or male.”
So surprising, so obvious, so revolutionary.
Woman and man. Good and evil.
Like golden aspen leaves fluttering to the earth.
It’s been years since I lived in the mountains.
I woke up at 4:30 and waited until
The night skies began to turn
Pinks and blues. A grey cloud
Stretched across the Rio Grande to Juárez.
We moved to this house almost 40 years ago.
We have grown old inside these walls.
Blood pressure 133/86. I am 72 years old.
My friend Jim Koller died last week.
Room 124 of the Motel 6, Joplin, MO.
A stroke scrambled his brain into darkness.
A few days later the rest of his body
Followed to the other side.
A road runner stared at Cirrelda
Through her Albuquerque window
That same morning. The bird
Preened its beautiful feathers.
“Jim Koller,” Cirrelda said.
Her body warm under the covers next to J.B.
She makes those connections.
A very human gift.
We have a mockingbird always
Screaming at me to open the gate.
“Nothing to it. Just let go.” Jim
Killed an elk on San Antonio Mountain,
The horses snorting and whinnying
At the crack of his rifle. It pierced
The peace that passes all understanding.
That morning likewise was years ago. Was ice cold.
Death steam rose fresh from the elk cavern
As Jim, kneeling like a priest,
Sliced into the dark center of life,
The bloody knife razor sharp,
Hands trembling in the terrible cold.
“CAW, CAW, CAW,” the crows screamed.
CAW, CAW, CAW, CAW
Beauty at the beginning
Man and woman. Good and evil.
Aspen leaves rotting into the cold earth.
Beauty at the end
No beginning. No end.
Beauty all around
That day and for weeks to come
Jim, his lover, his friends feasted on elk meat.
“Delicious, “he said.
Goodbye, Jim. Goodbye.
We’ll keep it real as long as we can.