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Grand Canyon Residency Interview in the OC Register

October 11, 2010

It’s kind of weird to read about myself in the newspaper that I picked up off the driveway in the dark this morning.

Yikes . . .

The second poem that the journalist included (with the interview/photo/poems package) was only an excerpt; here’s the entire piece, below. (And the backstory–the main incident of the poem occurred one February afternoon on the Barham Ridge Trail four or five years ago.)

That is No Country for Old Women

Sailing through chest-high greasewood I surprise

a rattler. It is mutual. My heart

races up the singletrack ahead of me.

I catch and lecture it. The beargrass—

where else have we seen it but this ridge?


And now another kind of buzz arrests

me: teenagers on dirt bikes. When one stalls

on the slick limestone ledges just below,

my gut throws a flinch that snaps my head back.

I backtrack and expound at length, my volume

tuned just one notch below froth and spit:

this is a wilderness park. Please leave it.


The F-bombs burst around me as I stand

sweaty and cross-armed, ready to repeat

my anti-invitation: don’t come back here.

What they reply shows a remarkable lack

of creativity, but I learn

what I have long suspected: I am just

an F’n old lady who should get the F out of here.

Finally, the one stalled bike growls back to life.

They all tear off in lacerating sprays

of dust back to their immaculate homes

in their secluded million-dollar zip code.

I let gravity ease me down the trail,

quivering at how stupid people are.

Including me. And then I hear . . .

a liquid trill spill over and fill the canyon.

Silhouetted high in an elderberry

one California thrasher pours out arias

from the rainbow arches of his bill.

I sink to the ground—the trail’s edge

is rough green with a lichen crust that creeps

one or two millimeters in a year—

snakes having moved a long way down

any kind of list of things to fear.

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