The Sunday Poem: Peggy Pond Church...Yesterday


riding to Guaje,
a warm wind blew through the spruce boughs.
The snow ran in rivulets to the river.
Above the yucca
shone a vision of flowers.

riding to Guaje,
I saw trees mighty in girth, tall and cool-shadowed,
rooted in a black dome of rock once molten.
I saw the river
bent from its course at the place
where the canyon is narrow,
flowing between the dark cliffs.

in a canyon beyond Guaje,
I saw a deer flee through the pines.
I heard the wind on a mesa beyond
stride furiously from the mountain.
I saw swift clouds
darken the sun.
I heard the advancing rain.

At a cliff’s edge I saw a ruined city
whose name is now forgotten.
There were five kivas carved in the hard rock;
forgotten now
are they who fashioned prayers.
Not even high-flying birds remember these walls,
only the high-spread stars.

It is long in men’s memory since these cities stood
white in the sun.
Yet even then had the river carved this canyon
and the far-off valley remembered in these same shadows
the colors of an ocean.
Thus yesterday reaches backward and forward forever and disappears like the sky.
How can I say what I thought while riding to Guaje yesterday?

Peggy Pond Church


This Sunday I thought best to bring back to life the voice of a poet who's crossed over into the Elysian Fields, but hopefully New Mexico fields full of cowpen daisies like what we see now . . . Ms. Church was born in Watrous, New Mexico, in 1903, famous for her book on the Manhattan Project: The House at Otowi Bridge,  but from the 1920's on she was a poet. See Accidental Magic, previously uncollected poems, Wildflower Press 2004. Peggy Pond Church died in 1986. "Yesterday" was written in 1926. Photograph of her is from the Los Alamos Historical Society, and we thank you. 

Do see Sharon Snyder's article here. History of the Writings by Peggy Pond Church

Guaje Canyon, Los Alamos County, New Mexico

The stories the poet wrote for her own sons in the 1930's are now available from UNM Press, The Pancake Stories.

2013 Gratitude Award Recipents Mitch Rayes and I will give a reading performance October 10th, this Thursday at 6pm, Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe. It's free but they need donations toward the 2014 Gratitude Awards. Other poets of the New Mexico Literary Arts will be reading so it seems like a gallant affair. I am so grateful for the award and it's an honor to read with Mitch and everyone.

Do tell your friends to look for poetry here every Sunday and link to the poem when you can. Poetry submissions are welcome, in fact needed or the dead poets, as worthy as they are, will take over this page.  Email
Larry Goodell


Views: 266

Comment by Margaret Randall on October 6, 2013 at 8:19am

Larry, thank you so much for giving us this Peggy Pond Church poem. It is so moving. I have read and reread--and loved--THE HOUSE AT OTAWI BRIDGE, but had never read her poetry. This is an amazing posting, much appreciated.

Comment by Dee Cohen on October 6, 2013 at 1:50pm

Thank you for posting this lovely poem. So nice to think of the poetic tradition in NM and the impact of the beautiful landscape then and now. Dee

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on October 6, 2013 at 3:16pm

Larry, Thanks for this curating.  I love the satin lapels on her suit, her coiff, the blanket and thick grass--most of all the set of a determined chin.  A strong and inspiring woman indeed.  Thanks for this poem.  We are so lucky to live in New Mexico . . .

Comment by The DitchRider on October 6, 2013 at 10:17pm

Kathleen Church, the author's daughter-in-law, writes: "Thanks for using Peggy's poem and reminding folks of her. A new book of children's stories: The Pancake Stories/Cuentos de Panqueque is just out from UNM Press; I think you will enjoy it."


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