02 January, 2010

Populate with Awe My Solitude

On my volcano grows the Grass
A meditative spot —
An acre for a Bird to choose

Would be the General thought —

How red the Fire rocks below —

How insecure the sod

Did I disclose

Would populate with awe my solitude.

My New Year's Day was spent in part on a solo hike along the rim of a volcano, Kilbourne Hole, the largest steam crater in the state, known as a maar. The largest known maar is in northwest Alaska, about 10 miles across. Kilbourne is about 1.75 miles across.

I followed an outdated county map to get to it, and as a result, spent hours driving around the Chihuahuan Desert, on dirt and sand roads, among giant yucca, vast stretches of creosote, acacia, and black strangle forests of mesquite, fairly uncertain of where I was. The mesquite was so thick that often I couldn't see the horizon as I looked for the Franklin and Organ Mountains for a point of reference. Most of the roads were unmarked. I felt thousands of miles away from cities. I drove by two groups of Minutemen, with maps, matching hats, plain white trucks, binoculars. This is the first time I've seen them in person, and it filled me with a sense of dread, with paranoia and surveillance, anger, resistance to the egos of men who want to hunt men as a hobby disguised as a patriotic value or a mission. It's my day off. I'm playing cop, soldier, or hunter, all three. Yeeee-haaa! You don't think this is FUN for them? I passed maybe six Border Patrol trucks parked on the sides of these desert roads, which can be followed approx. 20 miles south into Mexico. I also felt a strange abstract tension between the natural world and the political world, that here was a dual point of contact for me between the desert and the political realities of the US Mexican border, intensity, despair to match the desolation, but desolation teems with the life of men and animals, too.

On a wide plain they are seen more plainly.

It was late afternoon when I found the volcano rising above the desert, and I walked for a time along the rim. It's more vast than these photos below suggest. But it felt good to be connected to the outside as a symbolic start to the year. I've only lived here six months, but sometimes, out in the desert, I feel the curve of the earth, that I am on the side of the face of it, stuck by gravity but with a bearing from the outside of the self, to see it could fling everything and everyone here out into space. It's not the cloudless sky. It's the pure lack of perspective of the distance of objects on the land--vast alluvial flows imperceptible as rise or fall, seeing the plain unbroken until mountains 100 miles away. Small hills are 9000 foot mountains; massive mountain ranges are hills. It's a useful scale for reminding. At the rim, I am the bird on the meditative spot.

Huge yuccas grew in the soft ejecta along the rim.

One part of the rim rises very high and reveals the sedimentary layers.

Mount Riley to the south.

Franklin Mountains


Ronnie James said...

man, oh man. Look at that yucca, and that light!

Theobald said...

I hope you find occasion to use the line "Huge yucca grew in the soft ejecta along the rim" in a poem.