Becoming

-Gina

I marvel at these old cottonwoods
Some with gold and brown leaves
Few still with green
Branches misshapen
Broken
Scorched
Age has only made this Bosque
More engrossed, tangled, wise
Small shoots regrow, becoming
Reaching for bird and sun

I cannot filter the trees into perfection
I can only wonder at their time in history
The chipmunks and squirrels who have
Made their home in the hollows
Of these old tree bones
Worn with time

My feet walk the path unseen
Comforted by this space in nature
This Bosque along the timeless Rio Grande
I stop to feel the grooves of a downed tree
I too am as worn
Wrinkled
An age spot on my right cheek
Gray hairs have rooted
I am fortunate to have reached this age
Still standing
Still becoming
Reaching for bird and sun

(C) 2022


Photo by my daughter, M.J.M. | “Becoming” | Taken in the Bosque

If I were, I am

If I were a forest, I would breathe 

right now, while there’s still time.

I would spread my leaves 

like a lusting after sky. I’d reach 

my shapes, my shades of green 

and gray to blue and cloud, 

to light, to illumination, 

to all we dream this life to be.

If I was a river, I would call 

to snow down the shaded land, 

welcome it to my body, 

to my frontier of wet and quench. 

I would sing a hopeful melody 

into tunnel of tongue and throat.

If I was the earth of Earth, the soil, 

dirt, sand, or loam, I would sift 

through the air, fly whirlwinded

to river, to lake, to ocean. 

I’d be unafraid to take space, 

to move with the breeze. 

I would remember I too am nature 

and nature is of me, my body 

of water, the dusty dirt shedding 

of my skin bark is part of the song.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Prayer

Trees and soil pray with wind

and if there’s no wind, they pray 

with stillness. If they are unmoved, 

they are closer to themselves. 

Wind prays in stillness to find its shape 

and prays in tree branches to hear 

the harp strings of winter, prays 

in ground leaves to shake the land, 

prays in green buds to awaken

the cardinal, for color to bloom 

a spirit of life out of Earth 

in places where my face is not known, 

where I tiptoe upon the rock 

of mountains who are in constant prayer 

to sky and sun. The sun prays to darkness, 

realizing it cannot see everything 

in the light. In the heaven of goodwill, 

of humility, and of compassion, 

our own begging becomes a rhythm 

of prayer, divine like a being who prays 

through their very existence, a prayer 

embodying form, movements, 

and one’s entire being, in the lungs 

and on the lips. No knuckles, 

no fingers, manicured or callused, 

can pry through this faith, these prayers, 

how they are lived, how they are voiced 

like the trees, soil, and wind.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Calculation of Water

The smell of rain on dry dirt 

is a measurement of drought. 

Away from the desert, we don’t 

talk about drought as much. We’re 

concerned about it, but at a distance. 

I make vanilla rooibos tea 

with kettle water on mornings

when the air isn’t pushed down 

by humidity. One common mistake 

is to believe there’s no problem here 

with water. Distance is fallacy 

when we talk about there being 

almost two-thousand miles between 

the open-mouthed cooler now full

of collected brown tea water 

that we left out on the deck this past week 

and fire smoke hovering over thirsty 

desert land, prayers in flames. 

Make a map for me where your tea water

sits on your stove all the way to my kettle, 

the land where you are and the land 

where I am. Fill up the kettle 

with rainwater. Fill up the kettle 

with water from river. I’m not even sure 

what the river would say to this.

The equation for rain is the absence 

of all the car exhaust. I read 

about fish being filled up 

with anti-depressants, heart meds, 

other pharmaceuticals. Fish water 

is the length of the water for my tea, 

the depth of yours. Every day the rain 

is ours, even if we go without.

-Liza Wolff-Francis