L’Heure Bleue

What are they that move
Through these rooms without even
The encumbrance of shadows?

—Tracy K. Smith


In a land so sharply lit
Of such vast emptiness     dry scrubbed
Of rock ocotillo and arroyos
Framed by mountains canyoned
Toothed and mesa flat     a sky
That won’t release one’s gaze
The blues of it with broods of marbled cumuli
Veined grey and blue     the sky
Its clouds receding to horizons
The bottom mete the mountains
Always mountains

In this land cast shadows jar one’s vision
Vultures’ moving shrouds sweep mesas
Juniper and pine     ebb and flow
On canyon walls     a butterfly’s dark splash
Across the rock the scrub the sandy soil

Shadow’s other side comes traveling
In the midst of this sharp clarity     dust whirling
Devils out on cattle range in suddenness
Become a gusting gale where all is dun
No shadow no horizon     a day of this

The curtain lifts     again
The boundlessness of earth and sky
Toy freights traversing the desert vastness
Toyed with by the mountains’ masses
Yet seductive and hypnotic     engines barred
Burnt orange gold and black
Underscore the ground of bistre coffees duns
The hybrid power’s push and pull of miles
Of rolling stock     Gallup     the dark twilight’s

Wounded reds its pumpkin oranges
Its yellows     now hairbreadth streaks
Below the brush wash up to midnight blue
A silvered nick of moon
The engines and their stock
A rolling shade

While blink between these silhouettes
Of cars of coal and double stacks
The city lights on 66 the spark of tracks

The vultures roost the butterflies
The devil dust the rolling stock
The Mother Road     the hour blue

From sorrows     or from dreams
From fear     or from our open hearts
From shadows lost     or blue
From shadows found

Peter SeidmanPeter Seidman was born in Chicago (K through 4th grade, he went to school next to Wrigley Field, hence the Cubs cap—once a Cubs fan always a Cubs fan). He was educated in the Heartland as well as on both coasts. Peter retired several years ago from life as a teacher, R&D program manager, and editor. He gardens, swims, hikes, and regards his writing as a Practice. He has been published, among other sources, in Gertrude 13, River Poets Journal, and Presence, as well as in the anthology Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease. He lives in Berkeley, California.