(after reading â€œDeer in the Cityâ€ by Patricia Karamesines)
Deer rise up from the page
Like the walls of stone houses from the Mesa
As we top a rise on our drive across the Mesa
A few years after fire drove across
Uncovering new pots, new sites
The stone houses uncovered old memory
Older than the 40-odd years I have longed for this place
I had seen them in my childhood visits
But they weren’t what I longed for
Cliff Palace, filling its underhang, overshadowed the wonder
Of this suburban neighborhood
Houses in rows
Kiva for worship and gathering
We drove pastâ€”but Cliff Palace had closed for the day
And there was an extra tour cost
Spruce Tree House was open and free
Donna stayed in the museum to rest her feet
(How many check dams would have wished to retain what they did?)
Matthew and I took path and stairs into the canyon
And I rested where the path curves around the canyon wall
An underhang too small for stone rooms
Or too wet.
I have always heard they left when the water left
â€œOnly in the Cliff Palace twenty yearsâ€ the sign says
They had granaries
But the check dams couldn’t hold water for the seven lean kine
Did they keep kine?
This alcove is wet, water dripping, running
Did it dry up?
Looking out at Spruce Tree House I hope they felt this place’s peace
What stories did they tell by the fire, in the fields, on the hunt?
They left stories on canyon walls, but the hike is too far this late
Thinking of pots found after the fire I ask a ranger
â€œHave you ever found a kiln?â€
â€œWe uncovered one when we were remodeling the museum,â€ she says.
Back atop the Mesa I wander the single story houses
Awed at the memory of cities and suburbs
How odd to find that word in children of Israel’s parceling of Canaan
But which is the suburb, this stone village?
The cliff housesâ€”surely too grand for tenements?
Those children playing in the dusk,
What do their mothers say when they ask
To go visit friends in the cliffs, to sleep over?
The words, â€œDeer in the city after duskâ€” â€
Take me back there, or maybe it is the em-dash
That prompts, â€œOf course they had deer on the Mesa.
And they came into town at night and in winter.â€
And I wonder what they saw, the deer, the people
Did they share their crops?
Use wolf urine for scaredeer?
â€œHe says theyâ€™re oversized rodents eating the orchard,â€
My friend Bela says of his friend who lives at the Manila bend as you go out to Cedar Hills
â€œAnd they do eat daffodils.â€