Map to Taylor Creek

by Joel Long



Begin at moonset.  Lose your feet in the dark. 
Find water, how it feels on your skin, how
it sounds—you walk into it.  
grow wine, grow rust on iron. The moon
drops in a pocket at the base of your skull.  

Predawn is patient—so much time.  You
move along the creek bordered by shadow towers, 
terraced gardens of Babylon, red mineral spires, 
where priests pray silence next to the gods, 
vigil of pinyon and juniper.  

                                          The sun gilds the edge
of everything, and the world glides in emptiness.  
It lifts the cliff face in the shade of cinnamon, 
strands of burnt moss trailing. 

                                          Go toward the voice
in the stone hemisphere, the eroded double
in the wall above it.  Dawn sings, the woman
in a Superman shirt, woman you never see again.  
She sings the chest, the throat, the pure
                                                               mouth shaping
air as stone is shaped but slow in the way being
human is slow, 
                              slow beauty our limited scope. 

The walls of the canyon respond and sing back
her aria, the double arch alcove taking glow
of the day, mosses
blooming green with bright gold
tendrils threading through the red sand.  The singer
evaporates into morning. You
                           find her in stone, in water
marbling watercress and juniper bone glazed blue
this time, lapis, green pebbles, ivory, horse grass
raising woven legions.  There is no song
                                                          that lasts 

long enough.  You leave every sacred place.  

Photo by Joel Long

Photo by Joel Long

Joel Long’s book Winged Insects won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize.  His books Lessons in Disappearance and Knowing Time by Light were published by Blaine Creek Press in 2010.  His chapbooks, Chopin’s Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frostwere published from Elik Press.  His poems have appeared in  InterimGulf CoastRhinoBitter Oleander, Crab Orchard Review,Bellingham ReviewSou'westerPrairie Schooner, Willow Springs, The PinchQuarterly West, and Seattle Review and anthologized in American Poetry: the Next GenerationEssential LoveFresh Water, and I Go to the Ruined Place:Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights.