Map of this New World

Lake Hodges, named after a vice president of the Santa Fe Railroad
who helped arrange financing for the construction of the dam on the Del Dios road…

It doesn’t really matter what the maps call it..
there are far too many unimaginative old-world names given
these natural places here in this flowering new world,

and not just the Anglocentric, or the over-utilized Spanish words – but really;
wouldn’t you have rather seen more native places given indigenous names..
or translated for us from the original languages, descendants of whom
still live among us?

For example, instead of Hodges, I would have named this lake here
Two-Grebes-Walking-on-Currents-in-Courtship catch-basin;
another day I may have called it Coyote-Climbs-a-Burning-Hill Reservoir;
or perhaps I might have gotten sublimely inventive and declared it
Lake Cormorant-Pushes-up-Diegueno-Waters-Rising-to-Become-the-Sky.

And for all I know there are already bodies of water,
slices of land, or towering mountains already
given the names I would have bestowed;
but odds are in my favor that the lake
is more likely than not named Mirror or Laguna
the peninsula undoubtedly called Point or Land’s End;
the lone peak Sugar Loaf, Mesa or Baldy
and the mountain range is probably White, Green or Rocky.

Let us resolve then, at least among ourselves, to rename & reclaim
these, our sacred spaces; if no native name is found, let us make one up;
let us also de-Christianize our flora with non-biblical names.. in my house
we call the Joshua Tree Kokopelli’s, after the hump-backed flute player;
Our Lord’s Candle is the Desert Soap yucca or Dough-for-making-Cassava-bread Tree.

Our beloved but under-named Ocean Beach (Peoples Republic of) I have in the past referred to as “Place-I-first-met-Lizzie-bringing-Rock-Stars-like-Gregory-Page-and-Jewel-to-Poetry-Reading” Beach;
or “Shoreline-where-Ken-brought-cut-flowers-to-plant-in-wet-sand-at-sunset-honoring-Emily-Dickinson’s-birthday”;
and some days I have even called it “Organic-hippie-vibed-coffeehouse-no-longer-where-Dixie-once-made-her-open-mic-debut-playing-flute-and-doing-her-Real-Blues-poem” by the Sea..

So we can actually create a new atlas; one that may make sense only to you
& yours – but that celebrates the poets we are, and honors the ancestors whose land
we have merely borrowed, for a graciously brief period of time, and of timelessness.

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