Ledger

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains mottled as if with oil stains. Configurations of cloud-shadows.

Easy gait of hours: a way through — or into — the dry winds.

Our church is the mountains, says the guide to the tour group, all of whom have been instructed to keep their cameras inside their bags. 
A group crowding the aisles of San Geronimo Chapel.

On the dirt path between adobe structures, bareheaded. Stretching, palms out, as steam from the boiling pot does.

To move along the earth without keeping a ledger.

The horsefly not so incongruous with the sagebrush. Still, reflexive swatting.

We’re good citizens, we serve in the Army, though we’re regarded as second 
class by the US government.

Framed badges and news stories in the house of the retired sheriff. Men in his family who have been policemen, firemen, soldiers. His wife pinching the ears of bear sculptures formed from mica clay.

Thick paste of red soil and the piñon that pierces through it.

To carry on from day to day without exercising the sloppy hand of 
manipulation.

Four dollars for a plate of fry bread in cinnamon butter. The boy at the counter restless, wanting to get back to the electronic dance 
music on pause on his iPhone.

Reading a history backward, the deep strata.

Settling on this life as a parasite on its host.

That man next door who you bought from? He sells jewelry made by an Anglo woman. His wife.

The stray dog asleep on her side, dreams ripped from her open jaw.

Money touched from hand to hand.

Whole lifetimes spent trying to make sense of an appetite.

A town called Tres Orejas. Three ears. Plenty.

More Poems by Jenny Xie