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Elizabeth Dodd




It doesn’t matter


                   a tree falls

or doesn’t on this hillside.

          I am here

                   in this buoyant silence

lifting from snow cover.

          There is no story to tell

                   about cause and effect,

no one to pull

          the stiff sheet of grammar

                   over a scattered pattern

of bark and branches

          broken on the snow.

                   I turn sideways

and the wind slips among us,

          so many vertical,

                   dark shapes.


Chaco Canyon, New Mexico




Box Canyon: on the map,

a finger branching

from the eastern side of Chaco,

contour markings on the inner edge

like cilia.  Caught in ink-on-paper stasis, they

are poised at the verge

of motion, ready, I think,

to stroke and keep

the lives within the canyon walls.


Just ahead, at the rincon’s eastern tip, a lip

of stone holds ready

                             for runoff, washed

and glossed by water, waiting always

for another rain.


          As a child one summer, in Maine,

          I leaned above a tidepool, watched

          the miniature fish and shellfish trapped

          there, unaware, it seemed

          of their captivity.  I stood on the kelp-slick rocks,

          the seaweed beneath me matted and tangled,

          while, in the water, each plant danced.


If somehow I

could scale these cliff walls, stand

above the canyon’s rim, look down

and count the quick

lives (broad-tailed hummingbird, many-

lined skink, harvest mouse)

and the rooted (cliff

rose, Indian paintbrush, yellow larkspur),

watch them all sustained by each one’s presence,


how would my shadow look below?

Like a patch of shade cast by the rock?

The first hint of a cloud bank moving in?

Or like a hole punched in the protective sky?




Pueblo Bonito represents the highest development of

Anasazi architecture.  The huge, broken stones are what

remain of Threatening Rock, a vertical slab of rock which

once stood separated from the cliff behind the pueblo by a

wide crack.  The people used posts, mud, and stone

masonry in an attempt to shore up the rock, and placed

behind it prayersticks— peeled and carved willow wands

painted and decorated with feathers.  Why they built so

close to such potential danger is not clear.

                             --National Park Service Brochure


The Navaho called it, “place

where the cliff is propped up.”


Pueblo Bonito, pretty village,

a curved rear wall of stone veneer,

a double plaza, kivas,

doorways and rafters

and plaster—some left, centuries after—


On the morning of the winter solstice

the sun enters this window, strikes

exactly the opposite corner where wall

meets wall, form

an extension of content, this window,

this corner I’m

touching, this moment

while earth hurtles its own course through time.


1941, a cold January day (the month looking forward

and back), at last the great cleft of cliff

came down.  Today, standing puny atop

one chunk of fallen rock, sun

overhead pooling my shadow

at my feet, a puddle or mirage, I feel

I could disappear here,

sink into the earth, nothing

but minerals and water (form is

never more than—)

and nothing would alter.


Silence.  Not the boum of Malabar Caves, Caves,

not, just now, even wind.

                                       Nothing again


And yet the Anasazi built here, knowing

the cliff was fissured, surely would fall.

It didn’t, not for centuries.  Was that their doing?

We see their careful measures: prayersticks, and a masonry wall.




Greasewood, four-wing saltbush,

sage, occasional cactus,

sand, footstep, dust,

brightly colored

collared lizard, beetle, skink,

rock wren, cliff, receding

shade.  This is

what we came for: reduction

to the catalogue of all we see

and carry, rhythm of walking, water,

map, sunlight, edge

of shadow, not-me, me,

the car left solitary in the trailhead’s gravel lot.


At six the daylight pulled us

from our tent, and now we follow

those old wagon ruts, cliff swallows darting

overhead, wind touching

cottonwoods along the wash.


The red cliffs lift against the sunlight, infinitely

contoured, holding

the inverted bowls of bird nests, lichen,

and pictures pecked into rock.

Angular figures, familiar

from postcard photographs:

a man, a woman bearing children,

a mountain sheep, a snake, a spiral.


But what stops me longer

is more recent: one panel, shoulder-height, carved

with names and dates, 1903, 1911, and,

in almost flowing, careful script,

Jean, I cannot get no feed.

I cannot wait for you.


Was Jean a wife?  A lover?

What next, when she had come this far?


And here the trail leaves

the cliff’s edge, and its shadow;

moves through the day’s heat

across the arroyo,

to the canyon’s other wall, West Mesa.


This is the center of the world,

the canyon’s expanse enclosed

by cliffs, the horizon encircling all

there is, and we

are here, alive.


Above our heads, the ubiquitous

swallows carry insects to their nested

young, as they have

forever, and the nestlings call insistently

for food, falling silent only when the parent

flies away.


Painted on the rock directly


                   a hand, a crescent moon,

a giant star.  And if it does depict

a supernova,


imagine the artist, in 1054, choosing this

location—sheltered from weather, smooth—

balancing atop a wooden ladder, working

to show us

                   This great star appeared

with the crescent moon, bright enough

to shine in daylight.

Something in the world has changed.

What will it mean?


                           -from Like Memory, Caverns



Biography - Interview



Kim Addonizio 03-14-08


Agha Shahid Ali 09-14-07


Alice Anderson 11-16-08


Renee Ashley 04-10-2010


Christianne Balk 07-27-07


Brian Barker 07-07-07


Polina Barskova 09-13-2010


Bruce Beasley 11-22-08


Nicky Beer 09-06-2010


Nicky Beer 08-22-08


Nathaniel Bellows 04-27-09


Ciaran Berry 01-25-09


Linda Bierds 08-31-07


Kristin Bock 08-17-09


Bruce Bond 02-18-2012


John Bradley 03-12-2012


Brian Brodeur 03-29-09


Michelle Boisseau 09-20-2010 


Sophie Cabot Black 03-26-2012


Anne Caston 09-24-09


Anne Caston 02-27-2011


Elizabeth Biller Chapman 01-25-08


Nicole Cooley 04-05-09


Stephen Cramer 02-14-2011


Nicole Cuddeback 03-07-08


Steve Davenport 03-29-2010


Cortney Davis 05-03-09


Todd Davis 11-01-2010


James Dickey 03-12-2012


Stephen Dobyns 02-26-2012


Elizabeth Dodd 09-05-08


Karen Donovan 04-15-07


Mark Doty 04-11-08


Stephen Dunn 11-09-02010


Lynn Emanuel 08-30-2010


Lynnell Edwards 11-22-2010


B. H. Fairchild  09-04-09


Elyse Fenton 04-25-2011


Nick Flynn 01-28-2012


Nick Flynn 10-04-2010


Rachel Contreni Flynn 04-10-2011


Carolyn Forche 09-21-07


Carrie Fountain 03-21-2011


James Galvin 02-23-07


Margaret Gibson 01-24-10


Mary Jo Firth Gillett 02-22-08


Dana Gioia 08-23-2010


Eugene Gloria 09-20-08


Louise Gluck 03-17-2010


Kevin Goodan 08-29-08


Matthew Graham 11-28-2010


Robert Grunst 11-16-07


Bruce Guernsey 9-13-2011


Elizabeth Hadaway 06-15-07


John Haines 11-01-2011


Donald Hall 02-10-07


Sarah Hannah 11-25-2011


C. G. Hanzlicek 04-23-2012


Jeff Hardin 08-10-07


Elizabeth Haukaas 09-13-2011


Brooks Haxton 03-08-10


Seamus Heaney 09-11-09


Jamey Hecht 12-05-2010


Bob Hicok 10-25-2011



Andrew Hudgins 11-21-09


Lynda Hull 05-20-07


Henry Israeli 01-23-2011


Major Jackson 05-02-2010


Mark Jarman 10-19-08


Rodney Jones 10-26-09


Barbara Jordan 02-02-09


Ilya Kaminsky 11-18-2011


Daniel Khalastchi 8-30-2011


Brigit Pegeen Kelly 10-12-08


Jane Kenyon 04-01-07


Suji Kwock Kim 11-09-2011

 James Kimbrell 04-07-2010

James Kimbrell 01-19-07


Galway Kinnell 11-09-07


Yusef Komunyakaa 07-15-07


Phil Levine 06-03-07


Eleanor Lerman 11-02-08


Larry Levis 04-04-08


Larry Levis 02-08-2010


Lisa Lewis 02-11-2012


Sandy Longhorn 04-26-08


Corey Marks 10-03-07


Adrian Matejka 04-18-08


Davis McCombs 01-18-08


Jeffrey McDaniel 10-08-2011


Michael McGriff 02-22-09


Jay Meek 01-16-2010


Anne Michaels 01-18-09


Nils Michals 02-29-08


Keith Montesano 12-12-2010


Malena Morling 05-12-08


Simone Muench 02-08-08


Sharon Olds 02-22-07


Sharon Olds 10-19-07


Michael Ondaatje 02-01-2010


Eric Pankey 09-07-07


Gregory Pardlo 06-22-07


Ed Pavlic 09-28-07


Oliver de la Paz 02-15-2010


Lucia Perillo 12-04-09


Catherine Pierce 04-18-2011


Jon Pineda 04-09-2012


Donald Platt 02-15-08


Joshua Poteat 03-13-2011


Joshua Poteat 11-3-09


Wyatt Prunty 02-20-2011


Dean Rader 03-07-2011


Amy Randolph 03-01-09


Robert Randolph 12-12-09


Adrienne Rich 04-20-2010


Joshua Robbins 11-16-2010


David Roderick 12-07-07


Bobby C. Rogers 02-04-2012


Pattiann Rogers 3-21-08

 Steve Scafidi 10-09-09


Jim Schley 10-19-09


Tim Seibles 10-08-07


David Shumate 10-26-08


Dave Smith 04-10-09 


Katherine Soniat 01-21-2012


Katherine Soniat 11-30-07


Gary Soto 03-23-07


Mark Sullivan 08-28-09


Mathias Svalina 04-02-2012

Frank Stanford 10-25-2010

Mark Strand 02-22-2010


Mark Svenvold 03-23-09


Robert Thomas 05-03-2011


Brian Turner 05-13-07


Joshua Vinzant 01-30-2011


Tribute to Virginia Tech 04-24-07


Connie Voisine 10-1-2011


Charles Harper Webb 10-12-07


David Wevill 03-27-2011


C.K. Williams 05-25-07


Susan B.A. Somers-Willett 06-29-07


Charles Wright 01-27-07


Robert Wrigley 10-11-2010


Robert Wrigley 08-17-07


Robert Wrigley 04-09-07


Robert Wrigley 02-03-07