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  4. Timbre by Gabriel Gomez

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I can’t tell you I had climbed for hours on
ledges and crawled through gaps in the earth.
My hands negotiating
through the teeth of the palisade
lipped under the vineyard of temperate skies.
And I can’t tell you that I came
onto a ledge within the shelter of a granite roof,
ceaselessly carved by centuries of dripping water.
Feeding from pooled water and singular sunlight
a chamisa plant sat like a chopped wood.
The opposite end of root
speaking for its entirety through
silence and color.
And I wish I could tell you that at the moment
I met its splitting scent under the enormity of stone
your name appeared in my throat with clarity.
And I wish we were old
and in front of a grand painting,
a picture or postcard of
Picasso’s “Guernica” perhaps.
It would be then that I would tell you
Picasso once said that it took him his entire life
to learn how to paint like a child.
It would be through these words
that would make you understand
the same clarity that pooled over me
on that ledge those years before
when as a young man I extended
like direction, like timbre itself
for a dying song that echoed your name.

Gabriel Gomez, "Timbre" from The Outer Bands. Copyright © 2007 by Gabriel Gomez. Reprinted by permission of Gabriel Gomez.
Source: The Outer Bands (University of Notre Dame Press, 2007)

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  • Poet, editor, playwright, and journalist Gabriel Gomez was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He earned a BA at the College of Santa Fe and an MFA at St. Mary’s College of California.

    Gomez is the author of the poetry collection The Outer Bands (2007), which was chosen by Valerie Martinez as the 2006 winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize. He has also been awarded a writing residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute.

    Gomez’s poetry is rooted in images of the body and landscape. His work explores the intersection of cultural, personal, and political heritage in forms that at once nod to traditional and experimental modes, and include everything from pastiche to found language. As Craig Santos Perez noted in a review of The Outer Bands for Latino Poetry Review, Gomez “inventively makes audible what is ultimately ‘inaudible for poetry,’ from the transformations of glaciers to the vows...

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