Grand Canyon Residency Interview in the OC Register
It’s kind of weird to read about myself in the newspaper that I picked up off the driveway in the dark this morning.
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.