Laurie Hilton lives in Santa Fe with her husband and her two happy teenagers (so far). She is the co-author of Braided Voices, a poetry collection
selected by the New Mexico Women Author's Book Festival in 2010. Her work has been published in Adobe Walls, an anthology of New Mexico Poetry, the
Albuquerque Rag, and 200 New Mexico Poems.
Why the Rope
There are words
that won’t burn
braided hemp broken
from the weight of the body
Words charged cursing the extreme
find no truth in the balance
they are fuel in an engine
never sparked copper arc connecting
what is what should be
Words cautiously left
in the middle of a flagging bridge
neither start a war nor bring peace
Hammocked words of uncommon love
afraid to offend
lynched with pills
No words hang
on the knotted swing over the lake
in the pendulum pause
just before the drop
Tentative words chasing and escaping
the tail of a funnel cloud
pawing at the ground
The last fall before the red Harvester
our family of Mexicans drove up
with a new black-green, twenty-year old truck.
I stood next to a pile of cotton burrs,
while the older boys jumped out from the bed.
Daddy shook hands and gestured toward the field.
Ignacio’s forearms were brown and tight.
Before, Luis and Carmen played with me,
but that year they had gloves, and older eyes.
The baby, Hermano, was three days old;
he slept in a cardboard box on the turn row
'til his mother would come to weigh her sack.
Once I got to hold him on the way home,
that night I still thought they’d be back again.
I smelled tortillas from their doorless house,
and felt the butter dripping on my chin.
The Grey wolf is not gray; he was named from a distance.
Standing in the arroyo where my children play,
his coat is blonde and black,
rancid and thick
like the sweater worn by the homeless
man on Washington Avenue.
Disdain is the yellow tint in amber
eyes that want distance not pity;
mine, frozen blue, afraid to look away.
He has seen my white English Lab,
his wildness bred out, ashamed;
he shares the same Latin name.
He thinks that I could not
survive the night in his world.
But I have slept in culverts and felt the corrugated
cold on my back, when I could not bear another
moment of tameness.
I want him fed and sheltered somewhere away
Painter of Light
(JMW Turner 1775-1851)
Muted, blue mountain
in a gold, glowing sky
before incandescent light
my dream painted
a continent away
Two boats docked in a cove
near wooden steps to seclusion
behind the sentinel trees
hiding your pain and secrets
from the vague, faint village
Soothed by the haze
rising up from the water
safe from Bedlam
that was your past
becoming my future