Somewhere Else

It is here on this ridge 
exposed to the orange dusk 
of mountain autumn 
that the story begins. 

Buck wood for the stove 
feel the heat of shoulder to tendon 
greet the mule deer 
and water the garden again. 

In rhythm, with song 
when the ax begins to blend with wind
carry on to warmer days 
on the river’s open banks 
where the fervor of healing is found in water. 
Flow from one origin to another--
there is never a place where we cannot begin 
where the current is ancient, the wind is young 
teaching each other like the ax and the wood. 

Carve a place for dignity 
plant a seed and pray for rain 
for sun 
for understanding outside your self. 

There will come a day when they say: 
who do you think you are 
and another day will come 
for you to tell. 

On that day the story will appear 
but do not tell of yourself 

tell the story of the staff that blossomed in the desert
or the one about your enemy’s greatest victory

tell the story of somewhere else

More by Matthew Shenoda

Donkey Carts and Desolation

Dilapidated clapboard shacks 
piles of bricks in the sand 
scratching at the surface of cohesion

Ingenuity is the notion of building
On a foundation made from loss

Out in these arid expanses
where the Red Sea meets the sand
people dream of progress
made from humility 
and the laughter of others
multi-colored dross scatter across the earth 
like foreign shrubbery

We converse in codes of motion
Language signaling daily headway

Advice for the long haul.

Traces

In the hard shadow of the moon
when the recesses of light have gone 
and the faint red of the hawk’s shoulder has disappeared from the sky
in the growing pulse of the praying mantis
when the city has come into its own new light
it is here where I often remember:

the weaving of ocean vines
the trails of history, cemented by touch
the small ridged blossom of the cowry shell
the indigo dye made radiant by the seller’s basket.

The way the long grass 
emerges at the shore.
Something of that meeting.

These are memories both distant and near
traces of them lived and felt 
laughing in the company of the ones who came
holding the silence of the moment, as we stare 
with wonder, at the bubbling ruptures of a painter’s canvas,
pull, with care, the clinging skin of a stubborn fruit.

I recall these moments 
not from the grand gesture
of a thing once known, 
but from a small place
the place where my child’s hand
is hidden warmly inside my own.