WITH BYRON AT BANDELIER
Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
I walked with Byron the trails at Bandelier.
Out of a petroglyph
he spiraled, Odysseus
up from the whirlpool—Lord Byron
whose steps I’d followed in in Greece
in the same trail-runners.
Leave only tracks. Where native feet
had worn down narrow trails in the tuff,
which you can keep to
only with always the same one foot
in front of the other, at Bandelier
I tracked up trails
with Byron’s footprints.
Take only pictures. I focused in
on one of the cliffside spirals. Whirlpool, no—
a rising sun
through whose all-seeing noon
amid charred pinyon pines
and ashen junipers, I viewed
The flying Mede, his shaftless broken bow;
The fiery Greek, his red pursuing spear
amid sheer bluffs, gaunt pines and junipers,
and slopes of olive trees like crones,
with silver knives, and Byron
under a whetstone sun
carving his name
as if among these petroglyphs
in marble. Noontide swirled
from the spiral. I steadied myself
against a pine and scanned
the rock face. A stick man hoisted
a stalk of maize. The Greek
with his red spear spun nightward.
The tree, though charred,
bristled as if on guard with green.