Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

"The Faraway Nearby"

Bill Brown has written four poetry collections, three chapbooks, and a textbook. The recipient of many awards and fellowships, Brown lives in the hills of Robertson County with his wife, Suzanne, and a tribe of cats. He wrote “The Faraway Nearby” for an exhibition called Fragments: Poets and Artists of the South and Southwest at the Harrington Brown Gallery in Memphis. Read more about the show here.

The Faraway Nearby

La Sangre de Cristo, The Blood of Christ,
might have been named the blood of the Pueblo,
natives the Spanish enslaved to deliver from pagan ways.
In summer, O’Keeffe said, the mountains were miles
and miles of gray elephants, but in winter, the faraway
nearby, a looming presence, night and day.
Often, dusk crowned the snow peaks crimson.
From her home
the fiber artist watched a parade of shadows
cast by clouds brush the mountains copper, gray and brown.
A dull turquoise emerged in a drift of light, and when
a cloud lifted, a pewter hex flashed on Lobo Peak.
From her backyard, Wheeler Peak, Kachina Peak,
and the Sacred Taos Range. Out the front,
Tre Orejas (Three Ears), and the Rio Grande.
Last night
a toenail moon hung above the mesa like insomnia.
She awoke early to watch the nearest mountain crawl
from beneath a rock like a desert lizard, as the landscape
stitched itself into existence.
That morning
a winter heart felt as close as the red fringe
of the universe rushing.
Her work became a shaman’s weave,
a Genesis far from Eden,
talismanic, a prayer bruised by cloud.
She embraced the landscape’s language
one stitch at a time,
like a poem at the edge of utterance
remaking a world.