SageGreenJournal.org voices out of the West, mostly poetry, personal to planetary...

Jacqueline St. Joan

Denver, Colorado

 

Poet, novelist and memoirist, Jackie is a retired Denver County Judge, lawyer and law professor, where much of her career was dedicated to domestic violence legal reforms. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado and was coeditor of the anthology, Beyond Portia: Women, Law, and Literature in the United States. Her novel, My Sisters Made of Light, published by Press 53, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in Literary Fiction.

 

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two by

Jacqueline St. Joan

Ten Ways of Looking at the West

 

I

I drive the canyons of the West

Deliberately,

The way I drag my finger between

The shoulder blades of the cat.

 

II

The earth fired this mountain

Before it was the West, before

Weber or Madison or Curtis

before Morrison or Mancos,

Dakota or Jurrasic.

 

III

Flaming Gorge ,

One gigantic rock

Sliced red on the diagonal,

Stacked from floor to

The heaven of the West.

 

IV

Was it in the West that I loved you?

Pre-Cambrian? Or before that?

Tonight I sleep at the edge of your canyon.

I listen to your starry wind.

 

V

Golden light of autumn

Wide, scattered rolls of hay

Shades of lavender and horses,

The sky and fences of the West.

 

VI

In the face of the wide open

Thighs of the West,

I am shy.

 

VII

I see the snow-capped sea monster

In the bony Western spine

Of a mountain range risen and resting.

 

VIII

Sweetwater.

Deer Lodge.

Steamboat Springs.

My tongue plays

The words of the West.

 

IX

All afternoon the crows

Are calling, racing around

The treetops of the West.

 

X

Bring the Western sky inside you

Peace is blue.

a beautiful thing

 

It is a beautiful thing to wake

in the dark chill of October

and go out into it

where a crescent moon

and two stars appear both ahead

and in the rear view mirror

before you even leave home

to sit on the floor with it

kneecap to kneecap

inhaling the dark clarinet

of your body

only the breath of the tires

the train’s long choo-choo

searching in the rubble of itself

your pounding throat, a bratty knee

a molecule of coffee still clinging

to the root of  your tongue

your eyelids lower now

and in front of you wrapped shoulders

of a robe folded with her empty hands

that her, that you, that teacher

with the one word lesson

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