A Courtyard in Taos

I cannot say why this cottonwood
reminds me of my father.
It may be the sturdiness,
the solid comfort with which it plants itself
upon the earth.
It may be the limbs
that take up more than half the sky,
wide and strong enough to hold a house.

I cannot say why this thick and canyoned bark
reminds me of my father’s freckled shoulders
as he straddled a kitchen chair
and waited for mother to cut his hair.

I cannot say why I imagine
I will hear a deep humming
if I press against this trunk
and it will be as if I am resting my head
against my father’s chest,
listening to his great heart
numbering off his days.


(This poem was chosen to appear on "200 New Mexican Poems", a website created to celebrate the New Mexican centennial.)