Kindred Spritis (for Dixie)

I drove nearly a thousand miles
across three deserts
for our river ritual beneath the red moon;
across the quemado the Sunbird furied against time,
past ancient lava dunes sprouting
May’s verdescent splashes of sagebrush & snakeweed.
You circled above on a commuter flight
bound from Denver, floating
southerly along the contours of the Continental Divide;
& we arrived here at the middle of the world
like two errant crows riding
a thermal uplift of re-Union,
black wings shining high above the wide muddy at Cochiti.

The trailhead was marked solely
by a bank of river hawthorn,
a massing of soft rosado against dust-spattered, razor’d green.
Already it was an oppressively hot day
as we raced alongside the river
through thorny scrub & rustling cottonwoods
until we reached our sandy outpoint
in an exhilarated, expectant sweat.
Wading into the kneehigh, mudbrown eddy of swirling, warm water
white-skinn’d & awkward
like cattle egrets,
I followed your lead.
Reaching down into the current
& scooping up handfuls of the coppery silt, we
christened ourselves ‘a:ho’i
                   living in the all-Mother.

We eventually emerge from the stillwater
oozing redmud from arms, legs & fingerpainted faces-
our darkened torsos tingling as the mud dried
under the baking sun;
& we fell down in our adobe skins.
By midafternoon, the mesa-edg’d sky closing in
with turgid cumulus, the air thick
with both insects & approaching rain,
we traced out a circle with willow switches,
outlined it in pebbles & stones washed downstream
from the Sangre de Cristos
& laid down our feathers-
           Salve santos,
we chanted into the blue canyons;
Salve todos santos y espiritus afines.

The next morning we are wayfarers
in separate hotel lobbies,
business-clad, all remnants of mud &
sun & feather scrubbed
clean away by soap & shampoo,
leaving us lusterless & aching for the river again;
Twin Arrows Wandering
a pyramid city
in search of transformation & mud bodies
in the rush-hour maelstrom.