The Sunday Poem: Dale Harris... Cibola Winter

Beautiful images of our enchanted landscape dance with a bit of danger in this poem of the season.  No wonder we never grow tired of living here or wandering down those country roads.  "Cibola Winter" was written when Dale and her husband lived in Torreon and owned the Hummingbird Cafe in Mountainair.  She will be reading this morning at Sunday Chatter.

Harris is the associate editor for Malpaís Review, a poetry quarterly. Her poetry and music CD’s are available online at CD Baby and a number of digital distribution sites. She also sings with the New Mexico Celtic Singers.

                CIBOLA WINTER
Winter is amnesty.
There is the forgiveness of snowfall,
a clean white drape
over the rough New Mexican landscape,
covering the beautiful and the not, indiscriminately.
In the little Spanish towns along the Salt Mission Trail
snow is drifting against the crumbled adobes,
piling atop the rusted out cars in cluttered yards,
restoring them to grace temporarily.
On the nearby prairie
cholla cactus become a manger scene.
They kneel in knobby clusters
playing the parts of shepherds and wise men
who await the arrival of the blessed child.
If it is Christmas Eve,
luminarias, paper bag candles line the country roads
lighting the way for the messiah.
They are a gesture of hope against the dark.
Families bring them to graveyard too
making a path to their beloveds.
For those whose grief is not too fresh
it is a nearly cheerful, almost social scene.
They are kind to each other,
these people related by loss,
call out greetings and news
as they lean over homemade headstones
and rough cut crosses.
For them the cemetery is a large garden they tend,
blooming plastic, fantastical flowers,
messages of resurrection in punched tin.
There is an older festival
remembered only in the bones.
At Solstice the snow swirls a special way,
the Goddess is dancing her veils.
If you are a foolish traveler
late at night through Tijeras Canyon, beware!                        
She may invite you to be her partner,
entice you from the road,
spinning you around and around on the black ice
in a dangerous fandango.
Waken in the safety of morning
to a world made seamless white
by new snow, hoarfrost on shrouded pines,
a pearl colored sky.
It is the inside of an egg,
waiting to be pecked.       
            --Dale Harris

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 109

Comment by Margaret Randall on December 23, 2012 at 8:08am

Great poem. I love the first line, and then the poem unfolds true to that promise of "almost" and "never quite". Like so much of life these days. The end of the poem brought me back to Edward Abbey's first book, The Brave Cowboy, and that chilling scene in Tijeras Canyon where the man on his horse and the big truck moved inexorably toward one another. Except that you bring a female sensibility to it all. Thank you.

Comment by Dee Cohen on December 23, 2012 at 4:02pm

Dale, you've caught the magic of New Mexico coming and going. And bundled up in snow. Great descriptions and scenes. Thanks, Dee

Comment by Izquierdo on December 24, 2012 at 11:19am

A wonderful poem. It certainly covers a lot of ground.  I am most taken by the second verse which notes the value of snow covering man's excesses -- rusted cars and clutter. How nice to be free of them, momentarily. Then a sharp-eyed photographer like Dee comes along and turns them into art.

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on December 24, 2012 at 11:06pm

Pretty, a pretty poem for a tender time.  I love the ending: the inside of an egg waiting to be pecked--the old days of snow and wet--happy holidays to all and to all a goodnight!


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