Linda Whittenberg

Take the garage—
Backpacks carried up and down
mountains forty years, tents
where our co-mingled breath
beaded on the interior,
all kinds of gadgets
for repairing, installing, maintaining.

Chances are good,
no matter where you start,
the toolbox will get you even more
than when you cleaned out the closet
or dresser or desk. Maybe it’s because
objects there hold remains of his sweat.

The claw-hammer handle still carries
traces of where he gripped it building a ramada
toward the back of the yard, a high shelter
for the best view of moons that rise
over the mountains.

You recall how his younger friend Leon
came to help place vigas on posts
to form the frame and how alone
he spent happy days filling in the sides
with smaller logs and finally
hanging a swing in the perfect spot
for moongazing.

Start anywhere
and you’ll come to this—
how proud he felt,
although he wasn’t one to brag,
snuggling and swinging with his woman,
dogs at our feet,
horses and mules in the paddock,
even an exceptional goat.
Start anywhere and you’ll come back
to the glories of love lived here.


In the high desert, rain gauges measure
fractions of happiness, levels of despair.
In drought any gathering of clouds brings
a sliver of hope. People greet each other
with weather reports.

We cheer ourselves with memories
of when Monsoons, like clockwork,
brought afternoon showers.
We name years—
Sunflower Year, when gold
spilled along country roads,
Year of Asters when the valley turned
seven shades of purple.

Then, back to the present—
Year of the dreaded Bark Beetle when
hills are dressed in dead piñon.
One piñon, a centurion I have befriended,
cleaved to the side of the deep arroyo,
fought so hard I began to believe it could
make it, but, no, at last, it had to go.

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